News / USA

US Snowboarder Kelly Clark Defying Odds at Age 30

Women's snowboard halfpipe medalists, from left, Torah Bright of Australia, silver, Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States, gold, and Kelly Clark of the United States, bronze, pose with their medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Feb. 13, 2014.
Women's snowboard halfpipe medalists, from left, Torah Bright of Australia, silver, Kaitlyn Farrington of the United States, gold, and Kelly Clark of the United States, bronze, pose with their medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Feb. 13, 2014.
Parke Brewer
Most people think of snowboarding as a sport for the young and often daring. But at the Winter Olympics, American Kelly Clark showed this week she still has what it takes at age 30.
 
Do not tell Kelly Clark she is too old to perform spectacular aerial acrobatics on a snowboard. She has been doing it for years and does not plan to give it up anytime soon, even though she has now competed in four Winter Olympics.
 
She added more hardware to her trophy case in Sochi, winning the bronze medal Wednesday in the women's halfpipe. She was the first-ever American Olympic gold medalist in this event at the age of 18 at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
 
Clark placed fourth at the 2006 Turin Olympics, then won the bronze medal four years ago at the Vancouver Games, so she is now the only Olympic snowboarder to have won three medals.  Clark has also had great success at the Winter X Games and at scores of other international snowboarding events. She is the most decorated male or female athlete in the sport.
 
  • Shani Davis of the U.S. skates in the prototype of the official US Speedskating suit during a training session at the Adler Arena Skating Center at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Latvia goaltender Edgars Masalskis reaches to block a shot on goal by the Czech Republic in the third period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • The two-man team from Monaco MON-1, piloted by Patrice Servelle, start a run during a training session for the men's two-man bobsled at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • This multiple exposure photo shows the Sweden curling team throwing during a round robin session against China in the Ice Cube Curling Center at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Norway’s Haavard Vad Petersson and Torger Nergaard sweep ahead of the rock during men's curling competition against Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Workers groom the women's downhill course at the Rosa Khutor Alpine center at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Evgenii Itbaev leaps as a friend takes her picture near the Olympic Cauldron at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Norway's Chris Andre Jespersen wears a cut suit as he gets to the finish area after completing the men's 15K classical-style cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Swiss fans wear cow costumes and national flags at the Alpine ski venue for the men's supercombined at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 14, 2014.
Clark says she was inspired to be a snowboarder by watching a videotaped broadcast of the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
 
"I watched it after school. I was 14 years old, and I had one of those moments where I said, 'this is what I want to do with my life.' And you don't think you make decisions when you're 14 years old that will completely shape your life, but that one did for me.  And it's been one of the great privileges of my life to be part of it. You know, four years later I was standing on top of the podium in Salt Lake City convincing my dad that this was a legitimate sport," said Clark.
 
Clark believes she has done so well for so long because she has adapted as the sport has changed, and that was key to reaching the medal podium in Sochi.
 
"Every day I'm continually challenged, and I think that's why I keep coming back. And for me I kind of looked at this whole experience as icing on the cake for an amazing snowboard career, another opportunity to go for the Olympics and go for the Olympic podium again," she said.

Since snowboarding was added to the Olympic program in 1998, Americans have won far more total medals than any other county. Clark explained why.
 
"I think that the resorts in the [United] States really got behind snowboarding early. And they invested in the training parks and the halfpipes, and they created a place for us to train. Back in the (United) States we're training with the Swiss, with the Japanese. All the other countries are in the States training with us. And I think it's been a great thing to witness and be a part of and to really be a forerunner in," she said.
 
Clark says that makes the snowboarders a tight-knit group.
 
"I think snowboarding is unique in that sense because we are genuinely friends. We do care about each other. There is that aspect of camaraderie and friendship that goes along with it. And it's a balance, and it can be a tension at times. You just have to respect people in their place on competition day and know that regardless of what happens out there that the friendships are bigger and more valuable and more stable than any upset, than any win, than any loss. Those come and go, but the friendships remain," said Clark.
 
Clark acknowledged that this has been a transition year for her because the last two U.S. halfpipe teams included the same women.
 
"I'm starting to see more and more of my peers that I started snowboarding with retire, and it took a little bit of an adjustment for me, to be honest, to be able to kind of shift gears and be more of a mentor role and less of a peer. I perhaps don't relate to everybody that's not my age as much. But I can still be a leader and I can still encourage, and I still have things that I've learned that help these girls be successful," she said.
 
Clark says it has been very fulfilling to lend her support and know she has been an inspiration to the younger generation that also aims to achieve the dreams she has seen come true. She also now has her own organization, the Kelly Clark Foundation, which provides funding for young snowboarders with needs.
 
Clark believes the addition of snowboarding has been good for the Winter Olympics.
 
"I think that snowboarding has been very successful as an Olympic sport, and I think the Olympics have been beneficial to our sport as well. I think they've been so successful because it's so relatable as a viewer. You know, it's something that people are out there on the weekends doing with their family. They're enjoying it. If they're not hitting the 22-foot pipe or the 70-foot jumps, they're in the 12-foot pipe or hitting the 10-foot jumps at their mountains on the weekends. I think it's so inclusive. There's such a culture behind snowboarding that gets displayed through our events, and I think it's been a great addition to the Olympic Games," said Clark.
 
Kelly Clark says she is still motivated after winning her Olympic medal in Sochi, already dreaming up new tricks.  So she is not ruling out an attempt to compete one more Winter Games.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid