The Block Island Times

Olympian Kelly Clark and her island ties

By Lars Trodson | Feb 19, 2014
Source: Courtesy photo

Kelly Clark spent summer’s on a boat here on Block Island, but she’s better known for her acrobatics in the snow.

Clark is representing the U.S.A. at the Winter Olympics in Sochi as a member of the snowboarding team. It is more accurate, however, to say that she is “once again” representing the U.S. This is her fourth Olympics contest, having won gold in 2002, fourth in 2006 and bronze in 2010. This year she took the bronze in the “halfpipe” competition.

Clark is even more of a fixture at the X Games, at which she’s competed 12 times and is currently on a hot streak — winning gold in her last four appearances (2011-2014).

“You can’t really compare the two events as the Olympics is on such a grand scale,” Clark said in an email to The Block Island Times. “It’s always a privilege representing my sport and country to the world.”

USA Today said that Clark was one of the top 10 athletes to watch at this year’s Olympics: “Clark won gold 12 years ago in Salt Lake City. Now at the age of 30, she has the distinction of being a pioneer and one of the top competitors in her sport at the same time. Hard work has kept her at the top of her game in a field where some athletes are half her age.”

Snowboarding has been around, more or less in its current form, since the 1960s and was originally called “snurfer” — a combination of “snow” and “surfing.” The first official competition was held in 1979, in Michigan, where it was called the National Snurfing Championship. Just three years later, in Vermont, the first official National Snowboarding race was held. With its popularity growing, the International Snowboard Federation was formed in 1990 to help universalize the rules of the sport. It became an Olympic sport in 1998.

According to her Wikipedia page, Clark has been snowboarding since she was seven, and became a member of the U.S. Snowboarding team in 2000.

Although there has been a lot of commentary about the condition of the Olympic complex, Clark said “Everything is great here. The opening ceremonies were amazing and the village has been great.”

As she continues to dazzle the world with her wintry gifts, Clark still has fond memories of the warmer times she spent out here on Block Island. “I loved growing up on a boat out there every summer,” she said. “I could not think of a better way to have grown up.”

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