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Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: January 29, 11:16 AM ET
Gretchen Bleiler: Move was best thing

By espnW

My family moved to Aspen when I was 10 years old, and for a 10-year-old girl moving is the last thing that I wanted to do. My best friends, my school, the house I grew up in, everything I knew was in Dayton, Ohio. So, the idea of moving to Aspen, even though I loved Aspen and had grown up going to Aspen for winter break and spring break, I just didn't want to move. But it ended up being probably obviously one of the best things that could have happened to me.

But it was definitely a huge change going from going to the Dayton Country Club, being on the swim team, the diving team and playing soccer to moving to a place where there was so much snow that we had Avalanche Danger Days at school. We literally couldn't go to school because there was too much snow. Or camping and climbing 14,000 foot peaks. It was literally night and day and sort of set the tone for me and my growing up in Colorado.

I learned to snowboard when I was 11 years old, a year after we moved to Aspen. I have three brothers and my two older brothers were snowboarders at the time. And, snowboarding at that time, was this new cool sport that everyone was everyone was kind of doing, trying out. At the time it was still considered a trend and wasn't even allowed at some resorts. But I just loved, it was just this cool new thing, and I loved the energy of it and the vibe, and the fact that my two older brothers were doing it I definitely wanted to learn how to do it.

I was very lucky to go to a school where every Wednesday during the winter we had a half day off and we got to go up on the mountain and ski, snowboard, snowshoe ... whatever it is we wanted to do. It was sort of our education of learning in the mountains. So, one of those Wednesdays I decided to take a snowboard lesson with a bunch of my friends and immediately was hooked.

Snowboarding & the first day is always rough no matter who you are. You take really hard falls, especially if you are a little bit more confident, you push it a little bit more, and when you do that, your falls are even harder. So, I definitely remember those first couple of days just being so sore and taking just the roughest falls, but I also remember, our teacher did tell me at the end of the day that I was a bit of a natural, and that definitely fueled me. The end of the first day we too the very, we took the longest chair ride left up to the top, and it probably took us an hour and a half to get down, but we did it.