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Busy Bleiler focuses on defending title

Nate Peterson
Gretchen Bleiler soars at the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix Halfpipe Finals in Vernon, N.J., securing an Olympic berth and putting her in the spotlight heading into the Winter X Games. (Tim Larsen/AP)
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If only there were two Gretchen Bleilers.That way, one could deal with all the media requests surrounding the upcoming Winter Olympics in Turin while the other could just worry about snowboarding.Wednesday, on the eve of the Winter X Games, Bleiler’s words came over the phone quickly – not because she was excited about defending her superpipe title, but because she was trying to respond to some 150 unread e-mails before going to bed.

“It’s just been nonstop,” said Bleiler, of Aspen. “This is what happens when you do well and you go to the Olympics. It’s not too much yet, but definitely if it gets to be too much, I won’t hesitate to say no and not talk to some people. The most important thing for me is to train and to stay focused.”It’s been difficult to do so this week. In sweeping two Grand Prix halfpipe finals in Mountain Creek, N.J., over the weekend, Bleiler won a brand-new Chevy truck. She also earned a spot on the U.S. Snowboard Olympic Team.Then it was off to New York on Monday morning for a live appearance on “Good Morning America.” Host Charles Gibson was so impressed with the 24-year-old Bleiler that he kept bringing her onto the set, even though she was scheduled to appear only for a quick interview.

“It was awesome,” Bleiler said. “Charles Gibson was so knowledgeable. He knew everything about my history, about snowboarding. He was just amazing. He kept being like, ‘Let’s bring Gretchen back on.'”After a photo shoot Monday, Bleiler returned home, but not to a respite from the media crush. She taught a correspondent from “Good Morning America” how to snowboard at Buttermilk on Tuesday for a segment that will appear Saturday. “I can’t remember his last name,” Bleiler said, laughing. “His first name is Bill.”

On Wednesday she did two interviews for Forbes magazine, and one for the Rocky Mountain News. Then she bounced on a trampoline at the Red Brick Building in Aspen to sneak in some aerial training.As for the Winter X Games, the hometown pressure isn’t as intense this year, Bleiler said. There’s still pressure, but with the Olympics looming, this year’s superpipe final at Buttermilk is “great practice” for what she hopes will be a gold-medal run in Italy.”All the riders who are in the Olympics are going to be here,” said Bleiler, who returned last January from a season-ending injury the year before to reclaim the women’s superpipe crown.”I’m going to throw my run and push it a little. Of course, I’m sure once I get up there and it’s time to compete, I’m going to be nervous. But it’s sort of an extra bonus this year with the Olympics. I want to defend my gold medal.”Locals in the X Games Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, women’s snowboarding superpipe Asia Jenkins, Aspen, women’s skiercross Farrah Keanaaina, Aspen, women’s boardercross Peter Olenick, Carbondale, men’s skiing slopestyle and skiing superpipe Jason Smith, Basalt, men’s boardercross Casey Puckett, Aspen, men’s skiercross Christian Mosiman, Snowmass Village, men’s boardercross Ross Trulove, Carbondale, men’s boardercross Jordan Karlinski, Snowmass Village, women’s boardercross Steele Spence, Snowmass Village, men’s skiing slopestyle


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