Tips from Olympian Gretchen Bleiler
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Tips from Olympian Gretchen Bleiler

For 28-year-old snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, Olympic gold in Vancouver would cement her role as the best half-pipe snowboarder in the world. Here, her motivation tips.

Q+A with Olympian Gretchen Bleiler

When did you start snowboarding?
"I started snowboarding when I was 11. It took a long time to learn how to compete at my best. I've worked a lot on getting myself in the moment during a contest, so I can turn up my performance when it counts."

Do you also cross-train?
"Previously, I'd be in the gym every day lifting weights. Now I hike, bike, and take yoga and Pilates classes. I found that trying new activities helps improve my overall conditioning."

How do you mentally prepare for a contest?
"I don't allow myself to think negative thoughts. Even during a tough day training on the mountain, I'll focus on something happy, like the hot chocolate waiting for me when I finish."

Is the sport physically demanding?
"Yes. In training, I'll often have moments when my body is saying, 'What are you doing?' But you have to be willing to push yourself past your comfort zone to see results."

Are you friendly with your competition?
"I live in a small world. My best friends are also my biggest competitors. Snowboarders form a very supportive and cool community, which makes traveling to other countries during our season and the pressure of big contests so much easier."

What's the best part about your sport?
"In snowboarding, it's about putting on a show for the crowd. There's an element of 'chill out, have fun' that other sports don't have. I love pushing the boundaries, trying tricks other boarders haven't done and seeing how the crowd reacts."

What does "FITNESS" mean to you?
"It's what I do and who I am."

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2010.