Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug and Olympic hopeful Gretchen Bleiler were among the nine athletes to earn spots on this season’s Team Aspen/Snowmass.The other team members are Jess Cumming, Chris Davenport, Doran Laybourn, Ryan Lougee, Peter Olenick, Mitch Reed and Steele Spence. “Aspen/Snowmass is proud to sponsor such high-caliber athletes” said Skico Senior Vice President David Perry in a press release. “We have Olympic hopefuls, X Games and Olympic medalists, and freeskiing champions. They are tremendous ambassadors for the sport and for our resort.”Bleiler won gold medals last winter in superpipe competitions at the Winter X Games and the Gravity Games before being crowned the 2005 U.S. Open halfpipe champion. She is a hopeful for gold in the Olympic halfpipe in Bardonecchia, Italy, in February. Before a knee injury derailed her 2003-04 season, Bleiler won eight consecutive halfpipe competitions and received the highest score in competition ever for a female pipe rider.Klug, a liver transplant recipient who won bronze in snowboarding parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Winter Olympics, has his sights set on another medal in February. He is off to a strong start with back-to-back wins at Copper Mountain in November. This season marks Chris’ 14th year competing, and his 23rd year boarding, making him one of the veterans of the sport. This spring, Klug will again pair with other top pros for the sixth Burton-Klug Spring Snowboard Camp at Buttermilk Mountain.Cumming, a freeskier, is coming off a strong season in the halfpipe following a season-ending knee injury the previous year. She won the East Coast Freeskiing Open and finished second at the American Freeski Tour in Breckenridge. She was also third at the Vermont Freeski Open, and fourth at the World Ski Invitational and the Winter Gravity Games.Davenport is one of the icons of freeskiing. The big-mountain star has won the Powder magazine Reader’s Poll Award three times, and is a two-time World Freeskiing Champion (1996, 2000). He has also won the grueling 24 Hours of Aspen endurance ski race and Red Bull Ultracross events. This season, Davenport will be a commentator for all of the skiing events at the ESPN Winter X Games Ten at Buttermilk. He has also planned a landmark trek to climb and ski all 54 peaks above 14,000 feet in Colorado.Laybourn, who grew up in Missouri Heights, has showcased his snowboard skills in contests and video parts for the past few years. This season, he won first place at the Thanksjibbing rail jam at the base of Aspen Mountain. The new film from Grenade, “Smell the Glove,” features his rail-riding exploits. Lougee has been a professional snowboarder for the past eight years. During that time, he has had been featured in Transworld Snowboarding, Snowboarder, Snowboard, Frequency, Pleasure, Onboard, Whitelines and Transworld Japan. He has also had a number of video parts and has competed in the Winter X Games, the U.S. Open, the Session at Vail, the Vans Triple Crown and Aspen’s Bud Light Spring Jam. Olenick, a freeskier who won two Winter X Games medals in 2004, hails from Carbondale. Last season he was featured in films by industry leaders Warren Miller, Teton Gravity Research and Poor Boyz Productions. He will be working the contest scene this season and filming for some upcoming releases.Reed, a snowboarder, has been traveling this fall shooting photos for his sponsor, Burton. He plans on filming with Standard Films this winter and competing in select contests. Spence continues to make a name for himself among freeskiers. The Aspen native has competed in the Winter X Games the past four years at Buttermilk, but has yet to win a medal. He is an owner and partner in 4 FRNT, and does most of the design work for the company as well as design his own pro-model ski, the STL.
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