Gretchen Bleiler on the cover of ESPN “The Body Issue” covered only by her K2 Eco POP

Full article by Alyssa Roenigk

For snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, the decision to pose naked in ESPN The Magazine’s third-annual Body Issue, which hits newsstands Friday, was not made lightly. “I took it so seriously,” she says. “It’s such a vulnerable thing for an athlete to do.”

Francesco Carrozzini/ESPN The Magazine

She knows from experience. In February 2004, Bleiler appeared on the cover of FHM weaing only body paint. A few months after taking silver at the 2006 Winter Olympics, she posed for Jane magazine’s “clothes off our back” feature covered only by a not-so-strategically placed sheet. Bleiler even appeared once before in the buff in ESPN The Mag, in the 2004 Winter X Games preview issue, along with four other athletes willing to bear it all. But she swore she’d never do it again. At least not until it was on her terms. She says she was young each of those times and felt pressure to say yes. More than once, she felt the magazine’s editors didn’t portray her image as promised.

“That’s why I turned down the Body Issue the first two times they asked,” she says. “I wasn’t ready. This time, I was saying yes because I wanted to do it. And I felt confident in my decision.”

In each of the first two Body Issues, one action sports athlete was featured in the much-anticipated and all-nude Bodies We Want section: surfers Claire Bevilacqua in 2009 and Kelly Slater in 2010. This year’s issue features three: Bleiler, Olympic snowboarder Louie Vito and four-time world surfing champ Steph Gilmore.

Check out the rest of the ESPN article with Gretchen