BRECKENRIDGE - Rivalries filled with venom and bad blood are sexy and compelling. Like a roadside car wreck, folks just have to look. Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding and henchmen come to mind. Lose the thought if there were expectations of that nonsense happening in the snowboarding world. “That’s what the media wants,” U.S. snowboard team member Tricia Byrnes said. “It’s about pitting people against each other when we should be supporting each other. Snowboarding is not about kicking peoples’ (butts) and winning. It seems like that is what the rest of the world is hung up on. “Sure, we want to win, but we want to do it our way. I don’t go into a day thinking I want to beat Hannah (Teter). I go into it thinking I want to do my best run.” No conflicts here at the Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix at Breckenridge Ski Resort. These women are nice. Almost too nice. But that’s what makes the competition between elite snowboarders such as Gretchen Bleiler and Teter so refreshing. Bleiler, 24, one of the best female snowboarders on the planet, had just finished throwing down a run, performing an assortment of near-gravity-defying tricks, all to the applause of the crowd. Teter, 18, was a part of that applause. In fact, Teter, a U.S. snowboard team member and arguably the present queen of the halfpipe, was one of the first people to greet Bleiler, who skis for the independent group, The Collection. They exchanged a high five and a couple of atta-girls. Minutes later, judges announced that Bleiler scored a 43.90. It was the highest score of the day and .50 higher than Teter. There was no bellyaching from Teter. No moans or groans. Teter has a smile that’s seemingly perpetual, and it didn’t leave her face after the judges’ announcement. Teter went back to the top of the pipe and put in a run that she never had done before, and a run Bleiler couldn’t best. The run landed Teter her second consecutive Grand Prix here and sixth Grand Prix victory overall. “All the girls were just rippin’ it, so I had to put something together,” Teter said. “We were up there talking, and I went right before (Bleiler), and I was telling her, ‘I’m going to push you! I’m going to push you!’ And she was like, ‘All right then, push me!’” Bleiler, who calls Aspen home, and Teter, from Vermont, are favorites to make the U.S. Olympic team. They have been trying to one-up each other for the past few years. Teter won silver to Bleiler’s gold at the Winter Gravity Games in March. Teter won last year’s X Games while Bleiler was injured. Bleiler won this year’s X Games when Teter fell while attempting a 900-degree spin. The competition can go off the snow, too, with Bleiler’s nude, but painted, body posing for FHM Magazine. Then Teter starred as the lone female in the snowboarding documentary First Descent. “The cool thing about snowboarder girls is that all of us are very competitive, not just in snowboarding, but in life,” U.S. team member Molly Aguirre said. “We’ll go play board games together, and it’s so competitive. It’s a friendly competitive, but we all want to win. That’s what makes us so good at what we do. “We’re competitive, but it’s not like we’re out to get each other. I just want to land my run, I’ve trained so hard, that that’s what I want to do, land my run.” If there are any gripes among the riders, it’s typically with the weather conditions and venues. Breckenridge isn’t a favorite spot for Bleiler, who tore up her knee training here two years ago. “It’s harder here,” Bleiler said about snowboarding. “It’s windy. It’s cold and the pipe is pretty icy.” Pipe conditions. Weather conditions. But no complaints about her opponents. There is no contact with opponents in snowboarding. If a rider falls, there isn’t another soul who can be blamed. Complaining about an opponent would be akin to sour grapes. “In snowboarding it’s not that me against them,” Byrnes said. “We share each others successes and failures.” Columnist Milo F. Bryant can be reached at 636-0252 or email@example.com
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