Four-time X Games Aspen Snowboard SuperPipe champion and hometown favorite Gretchen Bleiler withdrew from this week's competition Wednesday night because of lingering effects from a serious training injury last summer.
Bleiler smashed her knee into her face June 26 while training on a trampoline in Park City, Utah, shattering her eye socket, breaking her nose, lacerating her eyebrow and causing a concussion. She underwent surgery a week later at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The 31-year-old pipe specialist was aiming to make her season debut this week, but pulled out after practice Wednesday. A representative from the sports agency Stanton and Company, which represents Bleiler, said she didn't feel mentally or physically prepared to compete.
Attempts to reach Bleiler by cell phone Thursday morning were unsuccessful, but the news did not come as a huge surprise. Bleiler struggled to regain normal vision for months after the accident.
"I went from 'When can I snowboard?' to 'Am I ever going to be able to see like I used to?' " she told ESPN in mid-December. She originally planned to enter the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo., two weeks ago, but elected to hold off until Aspen.
Bleiler is tied with Kelly Clark for the most women's SuperPipe crowns in X Games history, winning in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010. She finished fourth last year.