When she’s not busy snowboarding she enjoys keeping a healthy lifestyle through surfing, yoga, and mountain biking. Gretchen also designs a signature apparel line with Oakley, and is involved with the Women’s Sports Foundation. Along with Aspen/Snowmass, she created the first-ever all-girls halfpipe competition and photo shoot called the Snow Angels Invitational.
Gretchen appears in US Snowboarding and Ask, Listen, Learn’s public service announcement (at right) along with Louie Vito. In March, she’ll also appear in an Ask Listen Learn ad in Sports Illustrated for Kids!
Do you get nervous before a competition?
I’ve always gotten nervous, usually because I’m making things bigger than they really are. Instead of just focusing on the moment and the tricks I want to do, I’m thinking more about the end result. When I take a step back and think of it as giving everyone a good show, rather than seeing the event as something I might lose, it gets me really fired up instead.
Once you started competing as a teenager, you had to stay healthy in order to perform well. How did you deal with negative peer pressure?
I think you have to figure out what your passions are as a kid. When you have something you love to do, you naturally set goals to achieve those dreams. That makes you healthy and focused and motivated, and you don’t have time for drinking or drugs. You’ve got a reason not to do something that might be bad for you, and you become more confident, too.
When you're out there competing, you're on your own. Yet, as an Olympian, you're part of a team. Do you see yourself as a team player?
Definitely. One of the reasons snowboarding is so appealing is that it’s a very supportive environment. Some of my best friends are my biggest competitors. When we’re training, we’re training with our best friends and then pushing each other to ride better. When someone lands a new trick, that pushes me to push myself. It’s a unique environment, because in the end, the better my friends are, the better I’m going to ride. I’d never experienced the Olympics before 2006, but that became more of a team environment than I’d ever felt. Now we were there to do our best for our country. It definitely is more of a team feeling then. When you’re in the Olympics, you have the potential to try and sweep the podium as the United States of America, and that becomes a cool common bond for all of us.