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She's Got the Cake!
Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler talks to Scholastic News Online about her snowboarding lifestyle.
By Natalie Honodal and Kyle Eichleberger, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Gretchen Bleiler
Gretchen Bleiler with Kid Reporters Kyle Eichleberger and Natalie Honodel.

Don't forget to read our articles on these snowboarders:
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  • Shaun White

  • (Photo: Photo by Suzanne Freeman)
    Olympic silver medal winner Gretchen Bleiler has been snowboarding since she was 11 years old. Before that she skied her way through her childhood. She went into the 2006 Winter Games with the goal to "enjoy the entire experience." Well, there's no better way to enjoy it than to win and Bleiler won big in the half pipe competition on Monday, February 13.

    Last October, however, the thrill was all still ahead of her as she sat down to talk to the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

    Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    Gretchen Bleiler: I would say winning the X Games. They've been in Aspen the last few years and being able to win the X Games in my hometown was definitely a highlight for me, because I got to snowboard and ride my best in front of all of my friends and family and community. So that was pretty cool.

    Q: How are the X Games different from the Olympics?
    Gretchen: Well, I think the X Games are sort of becoming the modern day Olympics, because I think younger kids are growing up watching the X Games now, but the Olympics is the biggest event in all of sports. So I think the X Games is the bigger competition for snowboarding, but the Olympics are the biggest competition for everybody worldwide.

    Q: How do you overcome your challenges or any injuries?
    Gretchen: I think whenever you have any kind of injury or challenge you just have to deal with it the best you can. You have to decide what's important to you and focus on getting back to where you want to be. And enjoy where you are and what your goals and dreams are and just give it 100 percent.

    Q: Do you have a favorite snowboarder or one who you really wanted to be like growing up?
    Gretchen: I wanted to be like my brother. I have three brothers and they were all snowboarders and I always looked up to them/ That's the reason I started snowboarding. I always wanted to be just as good as they were.

    Q: Do you have any interests outside of snowboarding?
    Gretchen: Yeah, I like to mountain bike and surf and hike and lie on the beach and get tan and read. There are lots of things.

    Q: Do you think your surfing or any other sports you've played had helped your snowboarding?
    Gretchen: I think whenever you get out and do something different, like mountain biking or surfing, it just makes you more aware of your body and balance. For me, I've always loved anything that involved sports, so I've always just tried different things.

    Q: Do you ever feel that your traveling takes away from other things you want to do?
    Gretchen: I think that the life that we all chose to live was sort of a different one. We definitely all give up different lives for it, but I think it's been the most amazing thing for me. I've learned so much and traveled to many different cultures and met so many amazing people. It's something that you can't learn just sitting in school, so you have to give certain things up. But you also get so many more things in return. I couldn't ask for a better life.

    Q: Off the board are you friends with your competitors?
    Gretchen: I think everyone in snowboarding is close. We've become a big family. It's not a cut throat sport. I'm competing against one of my best friends and I think it's cool to be at the top of the half pipe, dropping in with your competitor, but your best friend, too. It's inspiring, because if Tricia [Byrnes] has a good run then I'm psyched to have a good run. So we help each other out and cheer each other on.

    Q: You guys seem to have a more laid back attitude than the other Olympians who come through here. Why is that for snowboarders?
    Gretchen: We just feel lucky to be able to do what we do. The Olympics would just be the icing on the cake. We've already got the cake.

    Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.