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Valley boasts 11 competitors in games

Gretchen Bleiler

23

Snowmass Village

Women’s snowboard superpipe. Finals are today, 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Bleiler took gold two years ago at Winter X Games, capping off a stellar season in which she won eight competitions in a row. She held the Vans Triple Crown overall title in 2002 and 2003, the Grand Prix overall title in 2002, and the World Snowboarding Federation title for 2003. After missing all of last season with a torn ACL, she came back with a roar, placing second at her first competition back. Bleiler will unveil a new move, a 900, at the X Games.

Bleiler was chosen Transworld Snowboarding’s Reader’s Choice female rider of the year. She and three other athletes started their own snowboard team in 2004 called the Collection team.

Sam Ferguson

34

Aspen

Disabled ski demo, Monday, noon to 1 p.m.

On March 31, 2003, Ferguson made history as the first monoskier to ski Highland Bowl from the summit, a feat that was captured on a Warren Miller film. Ferguson has been heli-skiing in Chile, among other endeavors, and competed in the 2000 World Synchro Championships.

Ferguson became paralyzed from the waist down in June 1995 in a mountain biking accident. Now he’s an expert ski instructor for Challenge Aspen.

Justin Glick

29

Aspen

Men’s skiercross. Finals are today, 2 to 3 p.m.

Glick won the U.S. Freesking National Championship at Snowbird in 2003, and has finished fourth or better in his last three skiercross contests in 2004. This will be his third Winter X.

A former financial adviser, Glick cycled 4,000 miles last summer working for a bike tour company. He also lived with a Swiss farming family who spoke no English when he was just 10 years old.

Jen Hudak

18

Aspen and Hamden, Conn.

Women’s ski superpipe. Finals are Tuesday, 2:15 to 2:45 p.m.

Hudak placed third in superpipe at last year’s U.S. Freeskiing Open in Vail and had two first place wins under her belt at East Coast races in 2003, one in the FIS Junior Worlds. She also placed fourth overall at the Whistler Ski and Snowboard Invitational last season.

Although she still represents Okemo Mountain, Hudak is spending the winter in Aspen to train with AVSC and her coach of four years, Elana Chase.

Jordie Karlinski

15

Snowmass Village

Women’s boardercross. Finals are Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A budding star on the boardercross scene, Karlinski finished 12th overall and fourth among the Americans at the FIS Mt. Bachelor Grand Prix in early January. A regular competitor in the regional USASA Snowboard Series events, she qualified for the X Games two weeks ago, and is competing in her first Winter X.

An Aspen High sophomore, Karlinski is among the youngest X Games competitors. Her brother Teddy also competes in boardercross; he was the youngest rider to make the top 30 at the Mt. Bachelor Grand Prix earlier this year.

Chris Klug

32

Aspen

Men’s boardercross. Finals are Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Klug won Olympic bronze in snowboarding parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, only a year-and-a-half after having a liver transplant. He has won six parallel giant slalom national contests, and was third at the World Cup finals in Italy last spring. In this, his 14th World Cup season, he placed seventh at the first event and won the Continental Cup at Copper Mountain recently. Klug DQ’ed twice at last year’s Winter X Games, but his nickname is “The Bounce Back Kid.”

Klug’s book, “To the Edge and Back: My Story from Organ Transplant Survivor to Olympic Snowboarder,” was released in November 2004.

Peter Olenick

20

Carbondale

Men’s ski slopestyle. Finals are Sunday, 12:15 to 2 p.m.; ski superpipe. Finals are Tuesday, 5:45 to 8 p.m.

In his first Winter X Games in 2004, Olenick made the podium twice, with a silver in slopestyle and a bronze in superpipe. And that was after qualifying for both events just two weeks before. Since then, he’s appeared in ski films by Poor Boyz, Level 1 and TGR.

A lifelong local skier, Olenick competed in alpine racing and moguls before hitting the terrain park. His favorite ski buddies are his brother Michael and sister Meg.

Casey Puckett

32

Old Snowmass

Skiercross. Finals are today, 2 to 3 p.m.

After competing in four Olympics and spending 12 years on the U.S. Ski Team, Puckett turned to “alternative” ski endeavors, winning the 24 Hours of Aspen in 2002, and taking Winter X gold in skiercross in 2004. He also held the Jeep King of the Mountain title after winning two of four races during the 2003-04 season over Olympian Tommy Moe.

Puckett is in his third year as an Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club alpine race coach.

Jason Smith

23

Basalt

Boardercross. Finals are today, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Smith was named to the U.S. Snowboard Team this season after placing in the FIS’ top 30 overall rankings. He finished ninth in boardercross and eighth in ultracross at the 2003 Winter X Games, and ninth in ultracross last year.

Smith works at Snowmass Sports as a ski technician in the winters while working toward an art degree, concentrating on photography, at Fort Lewis College in the fall. His nickname is “Earz.”

Steele Spence

21

Snowmass Village

Ski slopestyle. Finals are Sunday, 12:15 to 2 p.m.

Spence finished second at the McDonald’s Rail Jam at the World Skiing Invitational in 2004. This will be his fourth Winter X Games appearance ” he’s finished 12th, fourth and seventh at the last three. Widely considered one of the most talented slopestyle skiers in the country, Spence has appeared in numerous ski publications and has filmed with Matchstick Productions and Level 1 Productions.

A budding entrepreneur, Spence holds a share of 4FRNT Skis. He’s also the company’s graphic designer and first pro rider.

Tyler Williams

34

Aspen

Skiercross. Finals are today, 2 to 3 p.m.

A speed demon, Williams won the 24 Hours of Aspen endurance race twice, in 1994 and 1998. He has competed in every Winter X Games from 1998 to 2003 ” a seventh place finish in 1999 was his best showing ” then didn’t get to compete last year (he was an alternate).

Williams started racing downhill at the age of 10. He was a pro downhill mountain biker from 1993 to 1997 and likes to kayak class V waters.


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