Snowboarder Kelly Clark still going strong in fifth Olympics
By Scott Reid
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—Every member of the U.S. Olympic team receives commemorative ring from the U.S. Olympic Committee, which makes snowboarder Kelly Clark’s career a handful.
Clark, the 2002 Olympic halfpipe champion, received her fifth Olympic ring, one for the thumb, last week. Monday morning (Sunday evening on the West Coast), Clark will drop into the halfpipe qualification at the Phoenix Snow Park to chase another medal in an Olympic career almost as long as this year’s gold medal favorite, Chloe Kim, 17, is old.
“I was snowboarding before it was cool,” cracked Clark.
Yet Clark at 34 is very much a medal contender in Pyeongchang, her recent form prompting talk of a Team USA medal sweep in Tuesday’s halfpipe final with Clark and Maddie Mastro of Wrightwood joining Kim on the podium.
“It’s her fifth Olympics and she’s still going,” two-time Olympic halfpipe champion Shaun White said.
Clark is coming off a big victory at the Toyota Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain last month, where her 89.0 score beat both Kim (87.0) and Mastro (81.5), who like Kim is 17 or half Clark’s age.
“If I did the run that I did in Salt Lake (at the 2002 Olympics), I wouldn’t even make the final today,” Clark said. “I’ve had to constantly progress my riding, and I think that’s why I’m still able to be here 16 years later is because I’m constantly challenged, and I love that.”
Clark’s willingness to test herself has made her trailblazer for American snowboarders for most of two decades. Her victory at the 2002 Games was the first halfpipe gold medal by a U.S. rider male or female. She added bronze medals at the 2010 and 2014 Games. In between she became the first woman to land a 1080 degree jump.
“She has been nothing but a huge inspiration to […]