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Throwback: Comeback Sochi bronze earns Clark stunning snowboard hat-trick

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12:  Kelly Clark of the United States competes in the Snowboard Women's Halfpipe Finals on day five of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

A Bronze that is worth a Gold


February 12, 2014

Kelly Clark is the most decorated female snowboarder of all time, yet it was a bronze medal that marked her proudest achievement in the sport.

Clark became the first American snowboard gold medallist, winning the half pipe at the age of just 18 at the Olympic Winter Games Salt Lake City 2002. Eight years later she followed up with a bronze in the same event at Vancouver 2010.

However, it was her against-the-odds third place at Sochi 2014 that really stood out, because of her determination in the face of adversity.

On a difficult surface described by one journalist as “like a bowl of mashed potatoes,” Clark fell no less than six times in practice.

She fell again in qualifying and then once more during the first run, when her back smashed into the edge of the pipe.

Hannah Teter of the US led at the halfway point, with Clark, the veteran of the team, seemingly out of contention.


Why do we fall? To get back up!

Yet the native of West Dover, Vermont, who took up the sport at the age of seven, showed true champion’s pedigree on the second run.

Her performance was almost flawless, save for a “millisecond of wobbles”, earning her a final score of 90.75.

Another American, Kaitlyn Farrington, scored 91.75 to take gold, with Australia’s Torag Bright in silver medal place. To take the final place on the podium after such a poor first run seemed like a minor miracle for Clark.

A post shared by kelly clark (@thekellyclark) on

It made her the first snowboarder, either male or female, to have won three Olympic medals.

“I had less than ideal practice,” Clark said afterwards, with some understatement. “And not just little falls, but pretty epic falls. To come back to get on the podium, it was a huge accomplishment.”

The American is bidding for a fourth medal at PyeongChang 2018.


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