Aspen’s Gretchen Bleiler closes career at Winter X

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen's Gretchen Blieler speaks with an ESPN correspondent in the finish area after the final run of her professional snowboarding career Saturday at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk.
Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen Times |

Gretchen Bleiler put the finishing touches on her illustrious snowboarding career at the Winter X Games right where it started — in her hometown of Aspen.

Bleiler, a trailblazer in the world of women’s halfpipe riding, soaked up the adulation of the huge crowd at Buttermilk on Jan. 25 as she closed the book on a record-setting career under the brilliant X Games spotlight.

The popular Aspen rider didn’t win her final event. But that didn’t matter to the adoring crowd that acknowledged her accomplishments with an extended ovation after her third and final run.

Kelly Cark, the reigning queen of the superpipe and a longtime colleague of Bleiler’s, vaulted herself to the top of the eight-woman field in the finals. She won her fourth consecutive gold at Aspen Winter X and her 12th Winter X Games medal — a record.

Clark’s aggressive but smooth style included huge amplitude out of the superpipe with the decks lined with hundreds of fans.

She vaulted herself more than 15 feet above the pipe as she put together a seemingly flawless opening run of 95.00 that held up through all three rounds.

Second place went to California teenager Chloe Kim, a precocious 13-year-old who scored a 94.33 in her final run to win Winter X silver. Kim, a rising star in women’s snowboarding from Torrance, Calif., scored a 93.00 in her very first run ever in the Buttermilk pipe.

Kaitlyn Farrington, a U.S. Olympian from Sun Valley, Idaho, won the bronze medal with a 94.00.


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