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Team Aspen/Snowmass a mix of old, new faces

Steve Benson

The Team Aspen/Snowmass roster has been announced for the season, with a host of new faces shining in the athlete program. All nine team members – Gretchen Bleiler, Jess Cumming, Chris Davenport, Chris Klug, Doran Laybourn, Ryan Lougee, Peter Olenick, Mitch Reed and Steele Spence – return from last year. But the athlete program, which is basically the development team, has grown. The athlete program is composed of Justin Bartle, Kiffor Berg, Ted Davenport, Blake Davidson, Bridger Gile, Justin Glick, John Hembel, Asia Jenkins, Avery Karas, Jordan Karlinski, Teddy Karlinski, Kyle Logan, Christian Mosiman, Michael Olenick, Stephen Smith, Wyatt Stasinos and Mitch Stout. According to team manager Deric Gunshor, who was hired by the Aspen Skiing Co. last winter, the idea for the team was born about five years ago to help support local competitive skiers and snowboarders. But it’s also designed to promote the image of Aspen/Snowmass, since all of the team members travel and compete around the world.”They’re in circles with the top skiers and snowboarders in the world,” Gunshor said. “It’s an influential way of putting the resort in the best light.” Gunshor, a former marketing manager for the ESPN X Games, said what makes the team so strong is the diversity among the athletes. Five of the team members are snowboarders, four are skiers. But within those two disciplines exists a vast array of styles. For example, snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler is a master in the halfpipe, Doran Laybourn is a backcountry and big mountain snowboarding hound, while Chris Klug is a racer entering his 13th year on the World Cup Snowboarding Circuit. It’s the same on the skiing side, with two-time world freeskiing champion and big mountain legend Chris Davenport rubbing shoulders with park and pipe star Steele Spence. “The strongest part of our team is the variety of strengths – there’s a little bit of everything,” Gunshor said. “A big factor in choosing team members is creating balance to represent all areas.” Most of the athletes spend the winter traveling, but the Winter X Games in late January will feature a number of team members, including Spence, Olenick, and Bleiler, who’s returning after sitting out most of last season with a knee injury. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com