Variables – Third Time’s A Charm

Fletcher clinches the first U.S. women’s medal for Olympic parallel snowboarding.

With a colossal event like the Olympics, there’ll always be feats that get overshadowed-but we didn’t want Rosey Fletcher’s bronze-medal glory in the parallel giant slalom to be one of them. The Alaskan native is a third-time Olympian-the United States’ only three-time Olympian, in fact, and the first American woman to climb the Olympic podium for PGS. That’s right-consider yourself informed.

Despite Fletcher’s Olympic veteran status, she’d yet to have a performance she was truly proud of-until Torino. After not finishing her run at the Nagano Games because of a fall and then dealing with the disappointment of yet another crash that landed her in 26th place in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, this chick was ready for some serious redemption. “I was so incredibly devastated that I decided I was no longer going to define myself through results,” she says about the ’02 Games. “Once I was able to do that, the whole sport changed for me.”

It was this “snowboarding for the sake of riding” attitude heading into the ’06 Olympics that had Fletcher cool, calm, and relaxed, as well as enjoying her pressure-free, underdog status. Ranked eighth on the World Cup circuit at the Games’ commencement, Rosey raced like a true champ, posting the second fastest qualifying time and then dominating the bronze-medal round against Austrian Doris Guenther.

“It was an honor to be there with a great group of people,” says Fletcher. “The 2006 team was by far the most fun and inspiring group the U.S.A. has ever sent.”

I guess the real question that needs asking, however, is whether or not she’ll be able to call herself a four-time Olympian come 2010. “I’ve joked with my teammates that I’ll be there in 2010-but on the other side of the camera. I’d love to get involved with TV or sports commentating. If not, I’ll be there in spirit, because I have to watch (U.S. racer) Michelle Gorgone win her first Olympic medal!”-Jennifer Sherowski