Hannah Teter is an elite snowboarder with a world class heart of gold

While Hannah Teter aims for a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, her role as a Female Action Sport Athlete may be overshadowed by her kindness and generosity. When fellow boarder Gretchen Bleiler earned a medal at the 2006 Torino Winter Games, Teter actually organized a party in her honor.

At 27 years of age, her remarkable efforts with charity and philanthropy make her a role model on and off the field of play. The VH1 DoSomething Awards recognized her with the DoSomething Athlete Award.

Teter reacts after grabbing the silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

Teter reacts after grabbing the silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

Proudly serving as a spokesperson for Boarding for Breast Cancer, she also took part in a protest regarding the Canadian seal hunt by doing an ad for PETA. The sponsoring of children in less fortunate parts of the world through Children International is another noble cause she is involved in.

She would also be involved with Children International through a unique venture. In 2010, which saw Teter obtain silver at the Vancouver Winter Games, she launched a line of underwear known as Sweet Cheeks. A remarkable 40% of all sales proceeds went to the organization in order to assist underprivileged and impoverished children.

Teter with a Save the Seals ad for PETA

Teter with a Save the Seals ad for PETA

Perhaps the most remarkable cause in Teter’s prominent career has come through maple syrup. Originally from Belmont, Vermont, Teter likely grew up visiting sugar shacks. As Vermont is one of the few states that produces maple syrup, it is a significant staple in winter. Of note, a line of syrup, promoted as “Hannah’s Gold”, named in tribute to the gold medal she earned in the halfpipe at Torino 2006, is part of a very special charitable cause.

In partnership with World Vision, it helps to support the village of Kirindon, Kenya. Through initiatives such as building schools, water purification and the digging of wells, proceeds from Hannah’s Gold go directly to the African village, helping to improve the quality of life. During the 2009 snowboard season, Teter actually donated all of her prize money to the Kirindon village.

Appearing in the 2010 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Appearing in the 2010 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Fellow Vermont-based company, the world famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company, honored Teter with a flavor named after her. Dubbed Maple Blondie, the ice cream featured blonde brownie pieces and a maple caramel swirl. With proceeds of sales going to Teter’s charitable cause, it is a heart-warming story of Vermont entrepreneurs supporting each other in doing the right thing.

Before she left for Sochi, she was part of an even more special travel. Making a stop in Aspen, Colorado for a race on the giant slalom course at Ajax Mountain, she also became the first action sports athlete to represent the Special Olympics as a global ambassador. Other Americans that have earned the honor have included Michael Phelps and Apolo Anton Ohno.

Hannah's Gold, pure Vermont maple syrup, with proceeds going to charity

Hannah’s Gold, pure Vermont maple syrup, with proceeds going to charity

For Teter, the chance to give back to the community is her greatest reward as a celebrity. Organizations such as Special Olympics, which help to provide the disabled a chance to integrate into society is one that Teter is proud to be part of. One of her four brothers, Josh, has intellectual disabilities, and the opportunity to work with Special Olympics helps to establish a stronger bond between the two.

With the Special Olymipcs motto of ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”, it is one of inspiration and motivation that Teter hopes shall define her sojourn into Sochi. Receiving her proclamation from Special Olympics International CEO Janet Froetscher and Colorado athlete Cody Field (her Special Olympics unified partner) sends her off to Sochi on a remarkably positive and special note.

Gretchen Bleiler combines strength and determination as one of America’s most popular athletes

Although the snowboarding contingent for the Sochi Winter Games has not yet been named, fans cannot count out Gretchen Bleiler. Having turned professional at the tender age of 14, her mark on the sport is nothing short of impressive. From becoming the first female to land a Crippler 540 in competition to a Triple Crown of Snowboarding in 2003, very few can match her accomplishments.

Photo by Monte Isom

Photo by Monte Isom

Beyond her athletic prowess is also a beauty that also makes her a sex symbol for female sport. Featured in FHM Magazine in February 2004, she shared the cover with fellow X-Games enthusiasts Tara Dakides and Jamie Little. Of note, she was also one of the athletes featured on the variant covers for ESPN’s 2011 Body Issue.

With ambitions of gold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, it is the only accomplishment that has eluded her. A tiebreaker forced a then 19-year old Bleiler to miss the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games. She would bounce back by qualifying for Torino 2006. This followed on the heels of a memorable 2005 where she grabbed gold at the X-Games and Gravity Games.

Ironically, Torino would be the only silver medal performance of her 2006. In a year where Fuel TV named her Female Snowboarder of the Year, she was the Overall Grand Prix Champion and enjoyed a first-place finish at the 2006 FIS World Cup. Despite entering the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games as a gold medal favorite, the X-Games Superpipe Gold Medalist in 2010 would experience heartbreak. Falling on both of her final runs, she would leave Vancouver with an 11th place finish.

Bleiler being interviewed by Conan O'Brien (Photo credit: NBC)

Bleiler being interviewed by Conan O’Brien (Photo credit: NBC)

Looking to become one of only four women to qualify for snowboarding on the US Winter Games Team for Sochi 2014, Bleiler has had to overcome an entire new set of odds. An accident on a trampoline in June 2012 placed her career in jeopardy. A double back flip resulted in a knee to her face, smashing her right eye socket, breaking her nose and a concussion. While surgery was able to repair the damaged socket and vision exercises allowed her to return to competition, it was a recovery that took over six months.

Finishing third in the halfpipe at the 2013 New Zealand Winter games would provide Bleiler with a moment of redemption. Fellow American and friend Kelly Clark earned first place as Bleiler returned to the podium for the first time in two seasons. Clark was ecstatic for her, testament to the high regard that Bleiler is held in. As a side note, when she won silver in Torino, teammate Hannah Teter organized a parade in her honor at Aspen.

Proudly displaying her medal from Torino (Image obtained from: http://business.transworld.net/15496/news/gretchen-bleiler-signs-with-coca-cola/)

Proudly displaying her medal from Torino (Image obtained from: http://business.transworld.net/15496/news/gretchen-bleiler-signs-with-coca-cola/)

Despite the occasional struggles with double vision, a redeeming moment in New Zealand served as an invaluable confidence builder. She definitely has the emotional intelligence to handle such struggles. Working on a teacher’s certification in meditation through the Chopra Center, she is quite possibly, at her peak, achieving a personal best off the field which may contribute to her dream of Winter Games gold. Of note, she shares her experiences about the journey through meditation and the education as part of a blog for the USOC.

Gretchen Bleiler, Billy Demong, Monica Walker and Heather McPhie speak on stage during the USOC 100 Days Out 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Celebration at Times Square on October 29, 2013 in New York City. Photo credit: D Dipasupil, Getty Images

Gretchen Bleiler, Billy Demong, Monica Walker and Heather McPhie speak on stage during the USOC 100 Days Out 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Celebration at Times Square on October 29, 2013 in New York City. Photo credit: D Dipasupil, Getty Images

Even if her Winter Games dream does not come true, her humanitarian and environmental efforts make her a champion more than any competition could measure. From the Aspen Snowmass Save Snow campaign to her work with Boarding 4 Breast Cancer, she was also recognized by Planet Green as one of its Top 5 Eco Athletes. She has even helped pave the way for future female boarders by creating the first-ever all-girls halfpipe competition called the Snow Angels Invitational. As a proud supporter of the Women’s Sports Foundation, she has truly paid it forward.