Gretchen Bleiler Gretchen Bleiler

Gretchen Bleiler is peaking at the right time. The 28-year-old snowboarder "went to a whole other level" at the Winter X Games last month to claim her record fourth superpipe title. "It feels amazing to win that. I finally stepped up to my potential," she tells "I know I'm capable of doing more at the Olympics." The Aspen, Colo., native, who nabbed silver in Torino, is back to win gold and is contemplating a never-before-landed trick in the women's competition to help her do it: the 1080 (three revolutions in the air). I don't think I've ever seen you go as big as you did at the X Games. How much confidence and momentum did that whole run give you?
Gretchen Bleiler:
That's what everyone's telling me! I think I just finally surrendered and said, "I'm going to have fun and I'm going to do the best run I can." This is exactly what I needed — to compete so well in front of my community, my friends and family. ... The crash [at last year's X Games] sort of haunted me. I rode with hesitation the rest of the season. But I've been working hard ... physically and mentally it's made me stronger. I definitely hit my low point. Now I came back to the same pipe and did the same hit — frontside 900 — and won, right before the Olympics.

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Get the lowdown on Bleiler and the whole U.S. women's Olympic snowboard team You have your own line with Oakley. As a fashion designer, what do you think of the "flannel and jeans" snowboard uniforms?
Well, of course, I'd love to be wearing my own stuff! [Laughs] But it's important to have a uniform here. It's no longer about me — I'm representing myself, my sport, my family and my country. To be wearing the same uniform fires me up so much. It's a bigger-picture perspective, like how me and the girls [Clark, 2006 gold medalist Hannah Teter and Elena Hight] are talking about hopefully sweeping [the podium]. It makes you feel like you're in it together. That's going to be our goal. Between the line, your own lip balm and modeling, how do you balance everything?
I think I've learned how to compartmentalize. After winning a medal, you get whisked away for all these media opportunities. Hannah and I dropped the flag at the Daytona 500. It was crazy and so much fun, but now I've learned to figure out what my priorities are and say yes or no to opportunities as they come. When I'm on the mountain, I'm just thinking about snowboarding and nothing else. My art teacher in high school said the busiest people are the most efficient people. You're forced to be on it and you have to be balanced when you're busy. How do you look back on Torino?
I have the best memories ever. I've wanted to be an Olympian since I was 3 years old and I have zero regrets. I rode the best I had ever ridden at that point. Even though I got second, I landed my perfect run for that day and that's all you can ask for in a judged sport. So I want go to Vancouver with the exact same mentality. I never thought I'd be a two-time Olympian, so this is a bonus.

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