Kelly Clark was the first U.S. Olympian to win gold at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. She was only 18 years-old and it was her first Olympics. Now 34, Clark is the only U.S. snowboarder to compete in five Olympics and she’s the most decorated snowboarding Olympian. She’s still competing when other her age have retired. This year she’s competing with two up-and-coming snowboarding stars and U.S. teammates, Chloe Kim and Maddie Mastro, who are both 17-years-old and half her age. They were barely a year old when she won her first Olympic Games.
Clark pioneered the halfpipe in the snowboarding sport, and since then has become
not only the winningest rider ever but one of the most influential people in the sport.
… one of the most successful athletes in any sport, with more than 120 podiums and more than 75 wins. That included a 16-contest winning streak that hasn’t been matched.
She then went on to win the bronze in the halfpipe at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and again in Sochi in 2014. Clark also won five gold medals at the Winter X Games. Her teammates this year are
Clark’s suffered many injuries and setbacks, and in her book, Inspired, she wrote about how she overcame them. While she’s earned a lot of media coverage, much of it doesn’t focus on the single most important life-changing event of her life: when she became a Christian.
Even after her winning streaks and having built an identity on winning, she felt empty. Two years after winning the gold medal she overheard people talking about God and one sentence in particular: “God still loves you.” The phrase stayed in her mind and she began a search which led to her accepting Jesus Christ as her savior. It also gave her a new identity. Of her newfound faith she told the Christian Sports Journal,
I started to understand that I didn’t get my worth from people or from the things that I did. It was from Christ. If I hadn’t had that shift in my life, I think my world would have come crumbling down.
The Christian organization, Athletes in Action, produced a video about her inspirational story:
Watch Kelly Clark compete in the snowboarding halfpipe qualifying competition on February 11 and the final on February 12.
Follow her at @TheKellyClark.