For the past decade, snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler has been one of the most recognizable faces of the X Games Aspen and the sport of snowboarding. At a press conference Wednesday, Bleiler confirmed that this weekend's X Games will be her last, as she plans to retire from competition at the end of this season.
In an exclusive interview with SHAPE, Beleiler discusses her bittersweet feelings as she moves on from a 17-year professional career, which led her to five X Games medals, including three golds, a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, and an 11th place finish at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. "I'm so grateful for all the experiences I've had, the life lessons I've learned along the way are just completely invaluable," Bleiler told SHAPE. While she is sad to leave this chapter of her life behind, she is excited to move on and dedicate her energy to new ventures, including getting her certification in meditation through The Chopra Center.
In 2012, Bleiler crashed when attempting a double backflip on a trampoline during practice. She sustained multiple injuries including a shattered eye socket, broken nose, vertigo, a split eyebrow, and a concussion. After a year-long recovery process, Bleiler still experiences double vision, an issue that doctors say may never go away.
Bleiler had hoped to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but she did not make the team. Watch the video above to hear more of Gretchen's thoughts as she reflects on her incredible career and what she's looking forward to in her life after snowboarding.