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Snowboarding Legend Kelly Clark Announces Retirement

By Andrew Gauthier
January, 25 2019
Kelly Clark Method
Kelly Clark shows her gold medal-winning form in the women's halfpipe snowboard competition during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games. (Getty Images - Tim De Waele)

Kelly Clark, the most accomplished snowboarder in history with more wins than any other rider male or female, announced her retirement from competitive snowboarding on Friday. Clark’s illustrious career spanned 18 years as a member of the U.S. Snowboard Team.

Clark was the first American ever to win Olympic gold in snowboarding at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games. Her victory put her on top of the young sport as she continued to raise the bar with halfpipe bronze medals at both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

“Since 2000 when Kelly first made the U.S. Snowboard Team, she has been leading the sport, not just in the USA but worldwide, and she leaves an astonishing legacy as her competitive career comes to a close,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Director – Snowboard, Freeski and Freestyle Jeremy Forster. “From Olympic medals, multiple X Games victories, World Cup U.S. Open, and Grand Prix titles her competitive record speaks for itself. As importantly Kelly has also, throughout her career, served as a leader and an inspiration to her teammates and future generations of snowboarders. She is, justifiably, known worldwide as one of the greatest ambassadors in the sport. As Kelly moves to the next stage of her career everyone at U.S. Ski & Snowboard joins me in thanking Kelly for her commitment to her sport and wishes her the best of luck in her future endeavors. Kelly is a true legend, it’s as simple as that.”

Clark’s snowboarding legacy does not only come in the form of countless World Cup, U.S. Open and X Games victories but rather an everlasting footprint of progression within the sport as a whole. With the passion, drive, and excitement that Clark has displayed throughout over two decades of competitive snowboarding, it’s hard to imagine where the sport would be today without her efforts. Throughout all her success, Clark remained humble, supportive of her fellow athletes, and always kept the good interest of the sport as her main priority.

A five-time Olympian - the most of any competitive snowboarder - her long-standing career includes 13 FIS Snowboard World Cup halfpipe victories and 21 consecutive SuperPipe appearances at X Games Aspen where she finished on the podium 14 times. Clark was the first woman to land a 1080 in competition, a trick that is still done in the halfpipe today. She has won more than 70 career events and will now look to continue that success beyond snowboarding competition.

“Kelly has become the greatest female halfpipe rider of all time from two decades of steadfast commitment towards progression,” said U.S. Snowboard Head Pro Team Halfpipe Coach Rick Bower. “Kelly constantly evaluates then re-evaluates her personal best with the goal of moving her level of riding one step closer to perfection. I am so grateful for what I have learned from my nearly 15 years of working with Kelly. Kelly is the greatest role model for our current generation of female riders. Kelly displayed a relentless work ethic and desire to be the best version of herself every time she stepped on the snow.”

Clark plans to continue to give back to the sport through the Kelly Clark Foundation, which she founded in 2010. The Kelly Clark Foundation is an organization which provides youth with resources and opportunities to achieve their highest potential through snowboarding, and has helped support three current U.S. Snowboard Team members. Clark’s love for snowboarding is undeniable and although she won’t be competing, fans can expect her connection to and presence within the snowboarding community to remain strong.

Burton - Rise: 20 Years of Kelly Clark
X Games - Being: Kelly Clark
Kelly Clark Foundation