On October 29, 2014 OVR had the opportunity to co-sponsor an evening and conversation with three time half-pipe Women’s Olympic medalist Kelly Clark, who was there representing her foundation, The Kelly Clark Foundation. The event was hosted by STOKED founder Steve Larosilere at the Dumbo Sky space in Brooklyn, against the breathtaking backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. As people got settled in, Steve sat down with Kelly and began a conversation, asking key questions about her childhood, competing in the Olympics, her foundation and, of course, snowboarding.
Growing up, Kelly spent “every free moment” she had on the mountains of her native Vermont. She began skiing at two years old and started snowboarding at age seven. When she entered high school she had an amazing opportunity to attend Mt. Snow academy, a learning environment and community which she says prepared her for her future as a professional snowboarder. When Steve asked about this experience Kelly simply stated:
“ When i look back at my career and life path, I keep coming back to the amazing opportunity I had as a teenager to attend a mountain school and put all my energy into snowboarding… this was the turning point, after my first couple years going to school at Mt. Snow I knew I wanted to be a professional snowboarder.”
Attending Mt.Snow allowed Kelly to compete locally and nationally at a young age, a rare opportunity which helped prepare her for the pro ranks. When she was in eleventh grade, she joined the US women’s snowboarding team. Steve asked her what that experience was like. “ This was the most intense competition I’ve ever been involved with, it’s more competitive than the olympics themselves,” Her first Olympic Games were in SaltLake in 2002. She remembers: “I was the new girl on the team, so for me i didn’t really care or seem to notice the hype or anything. Being the new person adds a huge advantage because you just do the best you can and thats it. Fortunately my calmness and focus got me to the finals where I did one of the best runs of my life and i won. With every Olympics after that it got harder and harder to stay on top.”
2002 was a huge year for Kelly. Not only did she win the Gold in her first-ever Olympic games, but she also went on to win every major snowboarding event. Steve asked her how it that felt to win those events and she said:“ I was on top of the world…” What came next was almost complete domination of her sport for the next ten years. She won two bronze Olympic medals and, most importantly to her, the 2014 Bronze in Sochi. “This medal was the hardest to get and I won it with the final run of the event which was my best run of my life.” This was an emotional competition for Kelly and she held this bronze medal the entire interview with Steve.“ I’m the most proud of this medal because i didn’t even think i would place because i didn’t have any good runs before the final.”
During this time she also started the Kelly Clark Foundation which aims to provide youth with the resources and opportunities they need to achieve their highest potential through passion and discipline that snowboarding fosters. When Steve asked her to elaborate on that, she stated “ Success starts with the opportunity to follow your dreams, We have given over $60,000 to help kids in anyway to support their snowboarding dreams and this has been the most rewarding experience of my life.”