Playboy (snow) Bunnies go boarding
VAIL – Three buxom blondes and Olympic gold medalist Shaun White descended on Vail Mountain this week. Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends, Holly, Bridget and Kendra, took a break from the Playboy Mansion to learn how to snowboard for an episode of their show – the E! channel’s “The Girls Next Door.” White, fresh from a silver medal win at the X Games, said he was happy to give the girls a few pointers.”I thought they’d show up in fur coats and fur boots,” White joked after a quick lunch at Wildwood Restaurant at the top of Chair 3. It was the first time on a board for Holly Madison, 27, and Bridget Marquardt, 33, who were taught by Vail Mountain instructors Chris Sandoski and Dave Wilson. Kendra Wilkinson, 21, got a little more face time with White and instructor Tim Stuart, even practicing rail slides at the Lionshead terrain park.Wilkinson fell the first few times she tried “the box,” White said.”She’s tough though, dude. She got right back up and nailed it.”
Wilkinson said she got the idea for the lessons when she saw White at the ESPY Awards back in July.”I walked out of the bathroom and (White) was the first person I saw,” she said. “I was like, ‘Shaun – it’s my dream to go snowboard with you!'” White remembered the meeting well, he said.”I wasn’t familiar with the show yet – I just saw this cute little bunny, and I was like, ‘Yes, I’ve made it!'” White said, grinning.This past fall the girls approached show executives about learning to snowboard for an episode in the third season. Rob Hilburger, spokesman for Playboy, took the idea to Burton and it went from “an idea to reality,” he said.Burton spokesperson Dawn De La Fuente approached White to see if he’d be interested in the project.”Kendra is a big fan of Shaun,” she said. “She’s always admired him for his riding and his career and what he’s made of himself.”And White was excited at the prospect, De La Fuente said.”When we told the girls (that Shaun White would teach them), they were super excited,” Hilburger said. “They were also excited about the custom boards.”Burton outfitted each girl with a customized snowboard, complete with pictures of themselves outfitted in bunny costumes on the top, and their names on the bottom. As part of Burton’s Series 13 program (www.series13.com), anyone can customize a board starting at $800, De La Fuente said.
While Wilkinson couldn’t wait to board with White, Hilburger said “Bunny Bridget” was a little nervous about looking like a novice in front of White – “considering he’s the best in the world.”While two film crews tailed the girls and their instructors on Vail Mountain, a third film crew filmed a bunny-less Hefner back at the mansion for the episode as well, Hilburger said.”He was excited for the girls – as long as they didn’t get hurt,” Hilburger said. Vail and Beaver Creek Instructor Tim Stuart personally taught Wilkinson for two days on the mountain.”I was in South Korea representing Australia at a big conference called Interski when my wife called me and said, ‘you’ve been picked to teach the Playboy Bunnies.'”Stuart’s wife, he said, is eight-months pregnant with their first child and was “totally cool” with the idea.Overall the lessons went very well, he said.”Shaun White is a true champion – he was real helpful and we had a lot of fun.”The television crews on the mountain drew a fair amount of attention, Stuart said. “A lot of people wanted photographs and stuff,” he said.Christian McNamee was learning how to snowboard at Eagle’s Nest beginner area alongside Madison and Marquardt.”I recognized them from TV, though they’re a little more covered here,” the Miami native said. “I saw (Madison) fall getting off the lift. Of course, I did, too – we’re two peas in a pod, I guess.”By the end of the day’s lessons, the two newbie Bunnies were linking turns, and Wilkinson was nailing the box at the terrain park, De La Fuente said.”They told me today that now they want to go back and form a snowboarding club with the other Playmates,” she said.
“The Girls Next Door” is the highest-rated show on the E! channel and the number one show on cable in its time slot for women aged 18-34, Hilburger said. “It’s hugely popular with women,” he said. During the second season 60 percent of the viewers were women.”The majority of their viewership is female, so for women and snowboarding, it’s a really important piece,” De La Fuente said. “To see three lovely ladies getting out there on the mountain, two of them starting from scratch, is really great.”The third season of “The Girls Next Door” premieres March 4 at 8 p.m. Mountain Time on the E! channel. Hillburger expects the Vail episode of the show to air sometime mid-season, “maybe the fourth or fifth show,” he said.
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