After being sidelined for more than seven months with a busted eye socket, broken nose, and serious concussion from an accident during training, Olympic silver medal snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler is back, and prepping for her hometown X-Games.
“It was a terrible experience,” Bleiler told the AP. “Now that I’m back, I have a new perspective. I’m just letting myself have fun, let everything come back when it comes back. That’s where I’m at mentally with everything.”
Bleiler is still plagued with double vision and still starts every day by stretching the muscles surrounding her eyes after taking her own knee to the face while practicing a double backflip maneuver on a trampoline last June.
“I was bleeding everywhere and throwing up,” she said. “At one point I was like, `This is definitely not worth it’… I was like, ‘Oh no, am I ever going to ridge the halfpipe again?’ I was so far from being all right. But that was also a kick in the pants. I needed to do something actively to make this happen.”
Bleiler finally got on the half-pipe again last month, and will compete in her first event since the accident when she drops in at the X Games in Aspen next week. Then she’ll set her sights on Sochi.
“I’m happy to be feeling better again and healthy and just be back on my snowboard.”
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.