Bleiler home for her favorite time of year
BRECKENRIDGE ” All Gretchen Bleiler wants for Christmas is to sleep in her own bed for a few days.
After winning Breckenridge’s Grand Prix halfpipe contest on Saturday and finishing second last Wednesday, the 24-year-old snowboarder just wants to go home to Aspen and unleash some holiday cheer.
“I’m going home tonight to my bed in Aspen,” Bleiler said Saturday after the contest. “I’m going to decorate my house and get a Christmas tree. I just want to go home and enjoy Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of year.”
Of course, what’s Christmas without access to an outdoor play area? Bleiler’s playground lies a few hundred yards from her house in the form of Buttermilk’s halfpipe ” the very place where she landed her Winter X Games gold medal last season.
“It’s right across the street from me, so I’ll just go over there and work on some things,” she said. “I’ll go up and snowboard and have fun in a noncompetition environment for a little bit.”
Bleiler’s boyfriend and entire family will be home in Aspen for the holidays, but Bleiler said there are no material things that she hopes to find under her tree this year.
“I don’t need anything,” she said. “I’ve got everything I want. The wish list is to just enjoy the holiday.”
There are three more Grand Prix halfpipe competitions to serve as qualifiers for the Winter Olympics this February in Italy, and with her first two results, Bleiler is well on her way to making the team. Still, when she stands on top of the pipe to kick off the contests of the new year, she will do so with one resolution in mind.
“My New Year’s resolution is to chill out at the top of the pipe and just to enjoy the experience,” she said. “That’s honestly my biggest goal this year. It’s so much easier said than done because you get up there and you’re so nervous. Everybody up there has the nerves. But it’s not the end of the world. It’s being able to take a step back and see the big picture.”
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In the 50-mile race, three-time Olympian and Aspen bred Simi Hamilton bombed down Fanny Hill to capture the overall men’s title. Hamilton, who retired from professional cross-country skiing earlier this year, completed the race in a time of 4 hours, 17 minutes, 19 seconds. Nicole Tittensor, from Axtell, Utah, was the first woman to finish the 50-mile race.