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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.