Kelly Clark: Halfpipe Snowboarding
Kelly Clark called it “the fall heard around the world.”
She was joking, but within the snowboarding community it felt that melodramatic when a hard fall took her out of contention for the halfpipe gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. If Clark had taken a similar tumble four years earlier at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, she admits it would have been devastating. Instead, the defending halfpipe gold medalist experienced an overwhelming measure of peace amid the disappointment.
“Just two years earlier, my identity was in snowboarding,” she explains. “That’s how people knew me and that’s how I knew myself. That’s where I got a lot of my self-worth. But that began to shift and I started to understand that I didn’t get my worth from people or from the things that I did.”
Clark won that first gold medal as a young 18-year old fresh on the scene. But her disappointing fourth place finish in 2006 was tempered by a newfound faith in Christ that continues to push her to excellence today. Clark won the bronze medal in 2010 and qualified for her fourth Olympics in 2014. In the meantime, she dominated the Winter X-Games with four consecutive superpipe gold medals.
But these days, Clark refuses to allow neither success nor failure to define her as a person or to dictate whether or not she has joy in her life. In fact, Clark says she has found true freedom since embracing a relationship with God. “I’ve brought that freedom into my snowboarding,” she adds. “It really does set me apart from a lot of the athletes. I get to do what I love with the One that I love.”