Pro Snow Angels get glamourous at Cover Girl Invitational in Aspen/Snowmass
The third annual Cover Girl Snow Angels Invitational went off in Aspen Snowmass over the weekend. The event, pioneered by Gretchen Bleiler, proved to be the perfect way to cap off the intense halfpipe contest season this winter. This competition differs completely from every other event and is geared to gathering the leading ladies of shred to ride together in a pressure-less environment.
The weekend event kicked off as the ladies checked into their luxurious accommodations at the new Viceroy Hotel at the base of Snowmass Mountain. A meet and greet ensued and everyone gathered to enjoy appetizers at the super swanky Eight K Lounge. Anticipation for to ride together was palpable as a powder day awaited.
The Viceroy. Photo: Tawnya Schultz- Snowboard Magazine
The next morning yoga sessions complements of Nike went down and the ladies got limber. Then everyone was ready to slash it up through the freshly accumulated snow. The day was spent exploring the vast terrain of Aspen/Snowmass giving the girls a chance to focus on filming and photos. After a great day on the hill it was time to relax and everyone enjoyed spa sessions and massages at the Viceroy.
Following a good night's rest, the pipe contest kicked off Saturday morning under overcast skies. The grey weather was overshadowed by the bright personalities that shone through each rider at the top of the pipe. Each were excited to be do what they love, while riding together.
The comp was run as a jam format allowing the women to take as many runs as desired. The judging was broken into four categories: Overall performance, Highest Air, most Progressive riding and the "Barbie Style Award."
This format created a progressive atmosphere with little pressure. The ladies were going for it, some even attempting tricks never before executed in a contest. Ellery Hollingworth put together a really impressive and stylish run that included a halfcab into the pipe to a layback to a styled out backside 540.
Ellery Hollingsworth layback steeze. Photo: Matt Murray-Oakley
Kelly Clark was the big winner of the day taking first in the Overall Performance Category, earning the Highest Air Award and winning the "Barbie Style Award."
Kelly Clark threw this sick two handed shifty that earned her the Barbie Style Award, 3,000 extra bucks and bunch of barbies. Photo: Matt Murray-Oakley
Rounding out the podium was Soko Yamoko who took second and Ursina Haller who nabbed third. 15 year old Maddie Schaffrick took the Most Progressive Riding Award for her technical Crippler tricks.
The Podium- Congrats ladies! Photo: Matt Murray- Oakley
With the contest a success it was time to celebrate all the great riding that went down through the long and strenuous season. An apres party kicked off poolside at the Viceroy. Everyone enjoyed sushi by the large outdoor fires and talked about the days great riding.
The following morning everyone awoke to take part in yoga and freeride in the spring conditions. The weather was warm and the snow was soft. Some of the girls opted to switch it up and hoped on skis for a few runs. It was Olympian Elena Hight's second time on skis and it was interesting to see this world class snowboarder become a little fearful to get off the lift. But she crushed it cruising down the hill.
Elena Hight and Linn Haug get their ski on. Photo: @TawnyaSchultz
After the mini ski session the ladies switched back to their boards and lapped the pristine pipe. Banger after banger was thrown in the prime conditions and everyone had a blast. Canadian Merecedes Nicol smiled the whole time and said "this is the best day of riding I've had all season." Gretchen Bleiler agreed exclaiming, "Today has been so sick! I'm so happy to be riding with all these amazing girls in this amazing pipe!"
Merecedes Nicol, Gretchen Bleiler, Elena Hight, and Tricia Byrnes so stoked on the great shred day. Photo: Matt Murray- Oakley
With the contest season officially over, the chicas headed back to get ready for their big night out in Aspen by getting glam thanks to Cover Girl beauticians who did their hair, makeup and nails.
Elena Hight getting her nails done.
With the makeovers complete, the women headed into Aspen to get their dance on at Belly Up for the Danger Kitty concert. The 80's tribute band blew up the stage and the ladies loved it, some even broke it down on stage like rockstars with the rockers.
The Ladies breaking it down to the '80's rock! Photo: Tawnya Schultz- Snowboard Mag
The concert was the perfect way to end this event as it gave the ladies a chance to let go and and enjoy themselves. The Snow Angels Invitational was a great finale to the contest season giving all the riders a chance to rest, relax and ride, reminding them of their love of nsnowboarding.
Thanks to everyone for putting this awesome event together and big ups all the sponsors:
Can't wait for Next year!
Check out the Video Recap:
Aspen/Snowmass and Gretchen Bleiler are bringing back the super stylin' event for the third year in a row! CoverGirl Snow Angels Invitationalfeatures an all-female snowboard superpipe contest and lifestyle weekend in Aspen/Snowmass from April 2-4.
The Snow Angels Invitational is a highly anticipated event created by Gretchen Bleiler.The leading ladies of shred love this event because it is set up as a competition loaded with prizes but carries little pressure unlike other events. Olympian Elena Hight returns this year for the fun and claimed "I don't think I've ever been this excited before a contest started!"
The mellow gathering fosters an environment for pro women to come together and enjoy a weekend of freeriding, photoshoots and fun that culminates with a $20,000 prize purse pipe comp and a "Girls Night Out' event at Belly Up in Aspen.
Last year Kelly Clark took the win, followed by Gretchen Bleiler and Ellery Hollingsworth. With all the up and coming talent in an attendance it will surely be a showdown for the win.
Check out this video recap from last year's event and see why this contest is such a blast.
GrindTv will be on site to bring you all the action & relaxin' going down in Aspen so check back!
2010 Invited Athletes:
Schedule of events:
Friday April 2nd:
10:00am - 1:00pm> Film, Photoshoot & FreerideSnowmass Superpipe. OPEN for viewing to all credentialed guests & public3:00pm - 4:00pm> Barbie Lil AirSnowmass Fanny Hill (look for the balloons) OPEN for public participation. All participants receive prize.
Saturday April 3rd:
10:00am - 1:00pm> Superpipe Competition Snowmass Superpipe. OPEN for viewing to all credentialed guests & public1:00pm - 1:30pm>COVERGIRL Snow Angel Autograph SessionSpider Sabich Cabin includes lunch specials4:00pm - 6:00pm> Viceroy Poolside AprsDJ, prize giveaways, food and drink specials. Viceroy Pool
10:00am - 1:00pm> Film, Photoshoot & Freeride Snowmass Superpipe*
**Competition Weather date OPEN for viewing to all credentialed guests & public
Check out what some of our Olympians are tweeting about up in Vancouver...(Little bit of a common theme?)
Louie Vito - "Practice was better today but so mushy in the flat bottom. Got a lil more done than
yesterday but maybe a lil cold turkey for the contest??"
Greg Bretz - "mellow face bashing good time but still ready to shred it up tomorrow the pipe was a bit better today."
Scotty Lago - "Pipe was better today except the right wall was way too verty and the flat bottom was mush didn't stop @Shaun_white haha."
Hannah Teter - "First day of Halfpipe practice in Vancouver. The pipe is in rough shape. Hopefully they can get it together."
Elena Hight - "stoked for Seth Wescott on winning the gold today! WIshing good luck for the girls tomorrow! Go get em USA!"
Gretchen Bleiler - "Congrats to my @24hrfitness team mate @celskeet and my fellow @coke six packer @apoloohno! Good work tonight, way to kick off the Olympics!"
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Gretchen Bleiler is eager to get back in the halfpipe. The U.S. snowboarding star has been doing a lot more talking than riding over the past week, and that's not exactly sitting well with her.
Bleiler and her teammates have had plenty of down time in Vancouver, but not by choice. Olympic officials have had to limit practice times for snowboarders and free skiers competing at Cypress Mountain in order to preserve the fragile condition of the halfpipe and snowboardcross features there. The venue is suffering badly from a serious lack of snow.
Blieiler hadn't even set eyes on the pipe until Sunday, when practice finally got under way. But her mind has been very focused on the task ahead. After upsetting Kelly Clark to win the X Games earlier this month, she is now hoping to repeat the golden feat on the Olympic stage -- something she's never done. We caught up with her to ask about the challenging conditions, her rivalry with Clark and her battle plans for this week.
Can anyone beat Shaun White?
The short answer is White can be beaten, but clearly this is his Olympics to lose. White has lifted halfpipe riding to a new level with the double cork, a very technical move comprised of two off-axis spins where the head goes below the waistline while spinning. The rotations and flips are performed simultaneously. Over the past few months, several riders have mastered the double cork as each know there is little chance of making the medal stand in Vancouver without it. By December of 2009, the gap between White and his fellow competitors had narrowed. White was actually defeated during an Olympic qualifying event in January by would-be teammate Danny Davis (who was later injured in an ATV accident). Not happy with losing, Shaun went directly back to the practice pipe and added another move to his big bag of tricks: the Double McTwist 1260. A basic McTwist is an inverted 540 launched off the backside wall that sends riders tumbling forward. By adding a second McTwist and an extra 360 just weeks before the Opening Ceremonies, White has given himself a very handy weapon to break out in Olympic competition. But at the end of the day, he, like everyone else, still needs to land his moves. White won this year's X Games after a big crash in practice. The crash was a real reminder of the risks involved at this level, but it also proved just how determined he is to win. If White fails to slam the door shut on his competition, somebody like Scotty Lago could pull off an upset win. But the odds are pretty solid that White will become the first rider to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in halfpipe.
Will Lindsey Jacobellis put her 2006 nightmare behind her?
Whether or not American snowboardcross rider Lindsey Jacobellis can put her infamous 2006 Winter Olympics blunder behind her is one of the biggest questions of the 2010 Games. In '06, she gave the gold medal away after falling while throwing an excited grab on her second-to-last roller. Since then, Jacobellis has tried hard to put the whole thing behind her by winning repeatedly, but there's no escaping her Olympic past now that she's back on this stage. These days, she's training with the big boys on the men's side in snowboardcross to stay sharp, and it's really pushing her performance. Snowboardcross is a very demanding discipline that requires a lot of versatility in a rider. Jacobellis has that in spades. From her days racing in hard boots and freestyling in the halfpipe, to just ripping up the entire mountain, she can deal with any kind of feature and terrain. To tell you the truth, I hope she wins this year by doing a huge method over the final jump.
Will this be the career capper for comeback-kid Chris Klug?
Parallel giant slalom rider and 2002 bronze medalist Chris Klug is hoping to cap a very storied snowboarding career in Vancouver with another Olympic medal. He's been a part of U.S. Snowboarding since the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. I met Chris years ago, as a teenager, and was always impressed by his confidence and professionalism. He's always acted like a top-level athlete. I believe that attitude is what helped him make it all the way to the medal stand in 2002 after enduring a liver transplant between the Nagano and Salt Lake City Games. He earned his name as the "comeback kid" back then, but today the moniker is even more relevant since he's qualified for the 2010 Games after missing out in '06. To remain at the top level for a span of 12 years is a phenomenal achievement. I'll be cheering hard for Klug here in Vancouver just as I was 12 years ago in Japan when I was his teammate.
The women's battle in the halfpipe
The see-saw battle waged by U.S. women halfpipe riders has been heating up heading to Vancovuer, and it's now anybody's guess as to what's going to happen. The hope is Team USA can lift each other to a sweep of the medals stand, which is very possible. Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler all have Olympic hardware sitting on their shelves, and are hungry for more. Clark, who won the gold in 2002, dominated this year's U.S. Grand Prix and looks very determined to put her 2006 performance behind her. The only reason she failed to medal that year was because she went bigger than she had to. She tried a 1080 that she really didn't need to win and fell. My guess is she won't let that happen again. Clark's edging in the flat bottom of the pipe is what separates her from the other girls. It's a small detail that leads to much bigger moves. That said, Gretchen Bleiler, the 2006 silver medalist, just pulled an upset at the Winter X Games by defeating Clark in the halfpipe, and she did it by adding something new to her repertoire. That win has certainly lifted Bleiler's game, and forced Clark to dig deep and start practicing her own new move. As of now, Bleiler is throwing more technical moves while Clark's still banking on the big amplitude. But let's not forget Teter, who benefited from Clark's '06 mistake and capitalized by taking the gold. She's proven she'll be right there to do that again if the door is left opened. Of course, the biggest threat to the U.S. women is Australia's Torah Bright, who brings some serious amplitude, an elegant style and technical expertise to her approach. There's even talk of Bright throwing a double into the mix this year. If that does happen, there's a good chance the gold medal will be heading Down Under.
Mother Nature pummels Cypress Mountain
One of the biggest blunders the Olympic officials have made is deciding to hold some of the world's biggest and most important snowboarding competitions at what can only be described as a second-rate venue. Cypress Mountain's runs are only 2900 feet above sea level. Even during good seasons the snow there remains a challenge. This winter's El Nino storm-track pattern has sent a lot of Vancouver's usual snowfall south for the winter, leaving places like Cypress a sticky, slushy mess. There's little relief in sight at this point, too. I won't be surprised if this leads to scheduling snafus. It's already shortened the amount of training time each rider will get. Dealing with issues like this as an athlete can be a mental challenge. Being ready and able to adapt is one of the toughest parts of being an Olympic competitor. My guess is they'll each be taking a very close eye on their equipment, because they'll need to modify it for spring-like conditions with wet stone grinds on their boards and some warmer wax. I also think the poor conditions will continue to be one of the biggest stories of this Olympic Games.