January 25, 2007
ASPEN, COLORADO - (U.S. Snowboarding News Bureau Release) - Olympic silver medalist and local celebrity Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO) added another X Games medal to her collection Thursday night with second at the 11th edition of Winter X.
Also the 2003 and '05 X Games champion, Bleiler stomped a first run score of 91.00, launching her into the lead before Australian Torah Bright boosted a 94.66 point run that held up for the victory. Finishing third was '06 Olympian Elena Hight (South Lake Tahoe, CA) with 88.00 points.
"It's always such a pleasure to be able to compete in front of this awesome Aspen crowd, "said Bleiler, the '06 Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix overall champ. "Torah had such a great run and I'm really happy for her - it's still great to be on the podium."
In the best-of-two format, Bleiler had a bigger run planned for her second trip down the floodlit pipe, but slipped on landing on frontside 900 in run No. 2 and wasn't able generate enough speed to for her planned run.
"It's a bummer," said U.S. Snowboarding Head Coach Mike Jankowski. "Gretchen had such a killer second run ready to go, but she slipped and wasn't able to link the 720 after her nine. It's still a great contest and you want to see the rider who lands the best run on the podium - that's exactly what Torah did. She was the best tonight."
In a field of 18 invite-only athletes, the final was cut to 10 after a Wednesday qualifier. Included in the elite pack was Bleiler's U.S. Snowboarding teammate Hannah Teter (Belmont, VT), the '04 X Games winner and reigning Olympic champion for her first contest since recovering from knee surgery following after the Olympics.
"Hannah was in the top five of an incredible field, that's a good start for your first contest since February," added Jankowski. "She did really well, but just like Gretchen she wasn't able to land the run she wanted. The important thing is that the progression of women's riding is there. All the girls were really riding well, Elena went huge on her second run and if both Gretchen and Hannah were smooth in the run they wanted, it would have been a different picture."
The women will roll directly from Aspen into the second stop of the Grand Prix, slated for Feb. 2-4 at Mt. Bachelor, OR where most of the X field will be in action.
"I think you'll see a lot of these same girls at Bachelor, so it will be another great contest," said Jankowski.
The X Games continue Saturday with snowboardcross where back-to-back World Championships gold medalist Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, VT) will be gunning for her fourth X Games victory, while Nate Holland (Squaw Valley, CA) looks to defend his '06 win from Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott (Carrabassett Valley, ME). Also on tap for the afternoon is slopestyle with Scotty Lago (Seabrook, NH) and Molly Aguirre (Mammoth Lakes, CA) in the elite field of snowboarding's best.
For complete results: http://expn.go.com.