Gretchen Bleiler On ESPN Body Cover

ESPN will release its third annual ‘Body’ issue Friday, featuring several of the world’s most prominent athletes posing naked—including Olympic snowboarder Louie Vito, four-time world surfing champ Stephanie Gilmore and this year’s cover model, professional snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler,  who says she was more than hesitant to even consent to having her photos taken for the issue, according to an ESPN report:

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“I took it so seriously,” she says. “It’s such a vulnerable thing for an athlete to do.”

She knows from experience. In February 2004, Bleiler appeared on the cover of FHM weaing only body paint. A few months after taking silver at the 2006 Winter Olympics, she posed for Jane magazine’s “clothes off our back” feature covered only by a not-so-strategically placed sheet. Bleiler even appeared once before in the buff in ESPN The Mag, in the 2004 Winter X Games preview issue, along with four other athletes willing to bear it all. But she swore she’d never do it again. At least not until it was on her terms. She says she was young each of those times and felt pressure to say yes. More than once, she felt the magazine’s editors didn’t portray her image as promised.

In each of the first two Body Issues, one action sports athlete was featured in the much-anticipated and all-nude Bodies We Want section: surfers Claire Bevilacqua in 2009 and Kelly Slater in 2010.