Last weekend she smoked the field at Killington to win the final stop of the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix and claim the overall U.S. National 2009 superpipe title and the Grand Prix Series. Other podium appearances include a second-place superpipe finish at the 2009 X-Games; two second-place finishes at Breckenridge, CO and Lake Tahoe, CA; and a third-place medal at the Burton New Zealand Open.
With the season winding down, it may seem like a time for Clark to pause and reflect on how the season went. But not Clark. For her, it’s not about looking back. It’s about what lies ahead, namely the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC.
“This year for me was about the foundations of my riding and making sure where my snowboarding needs to be for the Olympics next year. That was the plan all along,” said Clark. “I wasn’t really concerned if I was going to do well in the events this year. Everything else has just been a great bonus for me.”
With the Olympics coming up next winter, Clark said she won’t be taking much time off to relax. After the season, Clark will undergo a long and strenuous conditioning program, four to five days a week. In addition, she will work with coaches on learning and developing new tricks to add to her repertoire.
“There’re definitely some tricks I want to lay down the groundwork for. There are things I haven’t tried yet,” said Clark. “Womens’ snowboarding has been progressing every year and the tricks get harder and more aggressive. It’s come a long way the last ten years.”
After physical training, Clark said she returns to Wanaka, New Zealand where she’ll spend another three months fine-tuning her riding. Afterward she gets a brief rest at home and then will start up again for next year’s big season.
Clark said 2008-2009 was one the busiest of her career. None of it, she says, has to do with her success, but a lot to do with the Winter Olympics coming up. “The pre-Olympic years are always the busiest for us,” said Clark. “This is my ninth event in ten weekends. I did eight back-to-back-to-back events after the Dew Tour started. It’s definitely busy as far as my schedule and travel go and the media is also starting to ramp up because of the Olympics.”
Last year, Australian Tora Bright stole Clark’s chances of winning the Burton U.S. Open. In the best-of-three-runs final, Bright took the lead early with a run that featured a backside three indy, a switch backside seven-mute, backside five, and a melon-to-fakie with a cab seven at the end. Clark completed a lofty frontside air to backside five mute, a frontside five followed by a method, and a frontside nine into a big backside air. But Bright’s score bested Clark’s by five points and Clark took second place in her final competition last season. Bright and U.S. teammates Hannah Teiter and Gretchen Bleiler also return to Stratton in 2009.
Despite the relatively close competition among the four riders, Clark said they are all the best of friends, encourage each other to do well, and inspire each other to try new tricks. “Snowboarding is unique in that way, we’re genuinely inspired by everyone’s riding. We all have different riding styles and and different strengths but it’s not cutthroat. I’m also going to be in Gretchen’s wedding this summer,” Clark laughed.
Clark finishes the 2008-2009 season at the Roxy Chicken Jam in Mammoth, CA and at a special invitational event at Snowmass, CO held by Bleiler.