Salt Lake Tribune
By Christopher Kamrani - September 26, 2017
Park City • Kelly Clark slammed into the giant inflatable airbag at the base of a halfpipe over and over this summer, praying she could turn the clock back nearly two decades. The 34-year-old snowboarding pioneer is no stranger to keeping pace — and often coming out on top — against rising talents in the sport.
The four-time Olympian wanted to try something familiar. So she went back into her old bag of tricks to relearn the “McTwist,” typically known as an inverted style of a backside 540 spin. The trick, Clark, explained helped solidify her name on the biggest stage when she won gold in women’s snowboard halfpipe at the 2002 Olympics at Park City Mountain Resort.
“I hadn’t done it in 15 years,” the Vermont native said.
Clark consulted the likes of Shaun White, Danny Davis and Toby Miller, asking for their help to become reacclimatized to the trick.
“I was able to land it first try,” she said.
That landing summarizes Clark. A generational talent refusing to retire, prompted to stay locked into her bindings for as long as possible, striving for her fourth Olympic medal. Clark’s decorated career also features 11 career World Cup victories and is a nine-time X Games gold medalist.
“She stands out when she snowboards,” said 16-year-old snowboarding phenom Chloe Kim. “She’s so talented, so amazing. Her riding is so powerful, so strong.”
Clark has been forced to adapt with the times. She might’ve helped the relationship between snowboarding and the Olympics get off the ground 16 years ago, but in order to keep up, she’s diversifying her tricks.
“[Snowboarding is] always changing. It’s elusive,” Clark said. “I always compare it to golf. You hit one shot that makes it all worth it every once in a while. For me, I honestly don’t think I’ve hit my potential, so I’m going to be pushing myself and finding out what I’m capable of.”
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