Things did not go that smoothly.
Oh, by the way, they added, we're going to shoot you in body paint.
As in nude, with the swimsuit painted on this time.
Recalling the moment, Bleiler ducks her head and giggles in a way that has a million marketing dollars written all over it.
"I'm definitely not the girl who loves prancing around in a bikini," she says. "The day I was supposed to fly out, I was on the phone about to cancel."
With boyfriend Chris Hotell, a former snowboarder, along for support, she went through with the shoot, even if it "pushed my boundaries and my comfort zone."
The resulting magazine cover — she appeared beside another snowboarder, Tara Dakides, and sports commentator Jamie Little — jump-started Bleiler as a media darling.
"She's perfect for it," says Tracy Anderson, senior editor at Future Snowboarding magazine. "Beautiful. Smart. Speaks in complete sentences."
But the increased hoopla, more interviews, more photo shoots, also had her feeling run down.
On a gray, snowy day in December 2003, while practicing for a slopestyle event at Breckenridge, Colo., she overshot a jump and suffered a torn knee ligament that required surgery. That, in turn, required "a ridiculous amount of time at the gym" and days spent hiking up Buttermilk Mountain near her condo in Aspen, taking the chairlift back down.
Another lesson learned. "I have to listen to my body," she says. "I have to say no sometimes."
Returning to competition in 2005, Bleiler hardly missed a beat, winning a World Cup event in Bardonecchia, — site of today's Olympic halfpipe — and the made-for-television Winter X Games, second only to the Olympics in the hierarchy of snowboarding. This winter, four wins in five qualifying events left no doubt about a spot on the U.S. team.
All of which puts her in an enviable position. Along with Lindsey Jacobellis, a snowboard-cross racer, Bleiler is among the most-hyped female athletes of these Games. That blond hair and smile, a hipness figure skaters cannot deliver, all of it will be dangled before the young demographic that NBC and the International Olympic Committee crave.
Bleiler understands her role. She is part of a small group of riders who have separated from the U.S. skiing bureaucracy to form their own team, the Collection, signing deals with mainstream sponsors such as Snickers and Yamaha, traveling in a decked-out tour bus. Even after withdrawing from the recent Winter X Games to rest for Turin, she showed up one bone-chilling evening to sign autographs at a sponsor's tent.
Snowboarding, she says, has given her more opportunities to make money than she ever imagined. But there remains the matter of performing in the crunch, adding to her arsenal. She has been working on the Michalchuk, an off-axis flip named after Canadian rider Mike Michalchuk, something no female boarder has pulled off.
"She's clearly one of the best riders in the world," U.S. halfpipe Coach Bud Keene says. "Her experience, her bag of tricks and the way that she puts it all together are certainly going to make her a contender."
Anderson of Future Snowboarding goes a step farther: "This girl is going to take gold."
That would be the accomplishment of a lifetime, a dream fulfilled, but Bleiler insists she won't put too much pressure on herself. She learned her lesson in 2002 — the Olympics will not mean everything.
"Of course, it's easier talking about this down here," she says. "Once you get up to the top of the pipe, things sort of change and you get nervous."
The last year or so, she has developed techniques to stay calm before her runs. Sometimes that means lying on the snow and closing her eyes, taking deep breaths. Other times, she looks over the fans lining the halfpipe, "just realizing how lucky I am," she says.
Enjoy this, she tells herself. Don't stress out.