Life on the Summit: Gretchen Bleiler makes Frisco her home away from home |

Life on the Summit: Gretchen Bleiler makes Frisco her home away from home

Miles F. Porter IV
Special to the Daily

Oftentimes Life on The Summit presents contrasting scenes of good and not so good for those pursuing their active lifestyles.

First off, we welcome back for another annual month’s stay in Frisco, one of the world’s top female snow sports athletes: Gretchen Bleiler, of Snowmass.

Gretchen, 32, and husband Chris Hotell got here a couple of weeks ago to finalize her preparations for this season’s snowboarding half-pipe competitions.

“My husband and I have chosen to make a home base out of Frisco now for the past three years for the beginning of the contest season. We’ve sort of been able to create this home away from home here because we are here for a full month and also being able to have our dog, Kota, with us,” she says.

“Maintaining routine and being with my family helps ground me and keeps me smiling. I’m very lucky to have the ability to create my own space during such a high-intensity time, and Frisco is so cute and welcoming, it’s the perfect place for us,” she adds.

Already an Olympic silver medal winner with a slew of X Games golds, Gretchen and teammates started their season and Olympic qualifying at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships at Breckenridge on Wednesday, and will stick around for the FIS World Cup and Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Dec. 19-22.

All this is leading up to the Sochi Winter Olympic 2014 Games in February.

Gretchen, inducted to the Colorado Sportswomen Hall of Fame in 2010, came back from a mishap in June 2012, that resulted in shattering the right eye socket, breaking her nose, splitting open her eyebrow and suffering a serious concussion on a trampoline. She was able to recover for the trial World Cup in Sochi last February.

She’s back and just as bubbly as ever — still flying high for Oakley and K2.

Her signature series Oakleys are the Gretchen Bleiler Oakley Signature Series A Frame’s (goggles) and the Gretchen Bleiler Oakley Signature Series Daisy Chains (sunglasses).

“I also have the Gretchen Bleiler Pro Rider Series outerwear. Muscle Milk is another sponsor and right now you can find me on my own limited edition Vanilla Creme Muscle Milk bottle in stores all over Colorado,” she says of business lineup.

Her other sponsors are ALEX bottle (her stainless steel water bottle company), WIDSIX, Kellogg’s, Aspen/Snowmass, Giro, US Snowboarding and Mission Athlete Care.

While those entrepreneurial aspects are time-consuming, she remains keen on the work at hand — getting to Sochi.

“This is a very critical time for a lot of people. The US has five Olympic qualifiers and our best two results are taken and with that the team of four guys and four women will head to Sochi to represent our country,” says Gretchen.

“The US has the deepest field of competitors for both the men and women and so just making the team is one of the hardest parts of the year. This will be my fourth Olympic qualifying experience and I’ve been through the best case scenario and the worst case scenario,” she adds.

“What I’ve learned along the way is that there is a lot on the line, but the most important thing to do is to enjoy this process.”


On the other end of the age spectrum, and hoping to get back on the slopes, is Dr. William “Bill” Spady of Dillon.

The 73-year-old international educator and author of eight books (the latest just out), Bill is a skier, golfer, bicyclist and music lover. He’s had a home in Dillon since 1991, when he moved from Santa Cruz Mountains of California.

Here’s Bill’s report of his on-slope mishap:

“Last Sunday (Dec. 1) I was skiing at Keystone — early, to beat the crowd. On my final steep run I was hit by a snowboarder who was out of control. I flipped backward and struck my head very hard, downhill. Happily, I was wearing a helmet, which I always do.

“I was absolutely fine all day Sunday, but things changed over the night. The bottom line is that I had a small stroke in the upper brain stem and am now at Spalding Rehabilitation Center in Aurora. I was very blessed that I was not hurt more seriously.”

“Everyone is talking about my being released on Friday (today) early afternoon to go home, and I’m delighted with the decision. The only downside is that my reaction times on some tests haven’t been fast enough for them to give me permission to drive, but there’s time to improve on that. Wish me luck.”

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to

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