With winter building up over Siberia right now and the brand new overhauled K2 snowboard line hitting the shops, we caught up with long time K2 Alliance Member and multiple X Games and Olympic medal winner Gretchen Bleiler to chat snow, boards and traveling
Interview by Anna Langer, photos from K2/k2snowboarding.com
Well to be honest, it wasn't the greatest! I love Wanaka in October and it was amazing down in town - cherry blossom trees blooming, everything was really green and beautiful, longer spring days, but up at Cardrona the weather for snowboarding just wasn't cooperating. We didn't get a lot of riding in so we left a week early. I've been going down to NZ for the past 10 years and have learned that sometimes you just gotta throw in the towel! But the few times I did ride, it felt really good to be back on my snowboard and I love Wanaka so it felt like I was on a vacation which is ok with me!
What were you up to down there?
Cardrona has been hosting a two week 'spring camp' the last few years for pros to come and get some good riding in the halfpipe and park before the contest season gets going again. Last year Kelly Clark and I journeyed down and had an epic experience! One of my favorite parts was that they also had a spine set up with an air bag. So you could work on new tricks into the bag and then as you got comfortable just commit on snow. We also scored with the weather last year - the best I had EVER seen it there with warm temps, softer conditions and a really nice shaped pipe and perfect spine set up. And then on top of all of that there weren't a lot of people there either so it felt very private. This year we went with the whole US team and apparently everyone else had the same idea. It was very crowded and blown out this time. The pipe was not a great shape and they had changed where the spine was built and the direction, so it wasn't ideal for going for it; everything was just a bit off unfortunately. Oh well that's snowboarding for you! We're definitely at the mercy of a lot of different factors always so some times you score and other times you get skunked!
What other plans do you have for the rest of the winter?
Lots of contests! This is the year that all of the countries need to earn quota spots for the Olympics. I'm excited the schedule has changed a bit this year, so it should be a bit new and different plus I'm hyped to get back competing. I've been really focused on changing up the way I spin, grab my board and amplitude and last year I had moments where it came together, but this year I want to get dialed right away and have a really strong season with results to show for it.
K2 overhauled the complete women's snowboard line for this season more on this next week!) - which board are you riding at the moment?
Well, I basically go back and forth between a board I have special made for me, an Eco Lite, and the High Lite. I like to ride the Lime Lite too, for spring time in the park - I actually brought that with me to NZ, I was hoping we're gonna get spring time... The High Lite is really great too, such a unique board! The perfect fun powder stick that's made so you can ride it a little smaller than you would normally ride a powder board without loosing any float. And it also has a super cool design and different shape to it, so just the overall feel is pretty cool and unique. And the graphics are pretty awesome too. But I mostly ride the Eco Lite, I love that board! It's based off of the Eco Pop, a board that has tested really really well in the last few years and girls always have good feedback with it. It's also the great allrounder in the Lite Collection.
Make sure to check back next week for more insights on the new K2 'Lite Collection' including insider info from the board designer and board buying tips by Gretchen!