Kelly Clark proudly displays her 2002 Olympic gold medal. A decade later, Clark is still the undisputed leader of her sport having inspired a generation of young snowboarders. (Getty Images-Brian Bahr)
Feb. 10, 2002 – Olympic medals mean different things to different athletes. Kelly Clark’s halfpipe snowboarding gold on day two of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games meant many things. It was the second U.S. ski or snowboarding medal in two days, generating a flood of flag-waving fan hysteria. It served to ignite a wave of snowboarding success at the Park City Mountain Resort venue. And it ushered in a decade of amazing growth for the sport. And guess who’s still at the forefront of that growth 10 years later? None other than Kelly Clark.
"I can't believe that it has been ten years since my gold medal in the Salt Lake games,” said Clark. “I did not think that I would still be living my dream ten years later, but I am finding I love snowboarding more than ever. The Olympics are the pinnacle of athletic achievement. But I am glad that they never defined me. I think that perspective has led to the length and success of my career."
Today, a generation later, Clark remains a hero in her sport. But she’s maintained her position not by looking back to 2002, but always looking forward. For a decade she has remained her sport’s leader – constantly taking women’s snowboarding to a new level. She’s taken risks to evolve her sport. One of those risks cost her a sure medal in Torino. But a decade later, she is riding a wave of success with 14 straight major wins.
Clark celebrated her 10-year Olympic gold anniversary with another win, taking the Dew Tour finals in Snowbasin and with it another Dew Cup. Then it was off to Oslo for the TTR World Championships – always at the forefront in the sport where in 2002 she motivated a decade of young girls to drop into the pipe and challenge themselves to be the best they could be.