Clark deserves her due as all-time great
Feb 06, 2014 | 7504 views | 0 0 comments | 361 361 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kelly Clark
Kelly Clark
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The Sochi Olympics open this week. Anyone with even a passing interest in the games should be able to find a a reason to cheer on the athletes who are competing, especially those with ties to our local communities. There are a number of athletes with ties to Vermont, southern Vermont, and the Deerfield Valley. But one in particular deserves special mention, both for what she has accomplished as an athlete and for the recognition she deserves.

Kelly Clark has dominated her sport like few others.

She has 67 wins and 109 podium finishes in 128 snowboard halfpipe events during her professional career. That’s a 52% winning percentage, and an unbelievable 85% top-three-finish percentage. That includes one Olympic gold medal, one Olympic bronze, and one fourth-place Olympic finish. She also has won the overall world snowboard title two times.

Clark is like the ‘26 Yankees, the ‘07 Patriots, Ted Williams, Michael Jordan, and Wonder Woman all rolled into one. She dominates snowboarding’s halfpipe like Serena Williams dominates a tennis court, or Jackie Joyner-Kersee dominated track and field in her prime. Clark doesn’t just win occasionally, she wins one out of every two events she enters. On top of that, she places in the top three in almost nine out of 10 events.

Yet, amazingly, a search of the web for “greatest women athletes” reveals that Clark doesn’t make many, if any, of those lists. That’s incredible. It’s a slight that needs to be corrected. Clark deserves to be mentioned in any conversation about top athletes in the world, male or female.

Consider someone who does make many top female athlete lists, Picabo Street. In her prime, she was a well-known and highly regarded skier. Deservedly so. Street earned one Olympic gold medal, same as Clark, one World Championship gold, and won two World Cup overalls in the 1990s. Certainly a compelling accomplishment, but in no way did Street dominate skiing the way Clark has dominated the halfpipe for the past decade.

Clark has been nominated for a few awards, mostly in the action sports categories on made-for-TV events like the ESPN Espy Awards. She has won one Espy. That is terrific, and at least there are some out there who realize just how dominant Clark has been.

But really, hasn’t she already earned recognition as one of the greatest athletes ever, in any sport, instead of just a subcategory of one sport? It’s not like snowboarding is still a fringe sport. That was 30 years ago. Snowboarding is a mainstream winter sport, and halfpipe is the marquee discipline within the sport. Certainly Sean White has garnered attention as a great athlete, essentially in the same discipline as Clark.

Now, as Clark is set to begin her fourth Olympic Games, is the opportunity to give Clark her due. Win or lose at Sochi, she deserves a place in the pantheon of Olympus.

With the explosion of social media the world is undergoing, there’s no reason a campaign to give Clark her due can’t start right here in the Deerfield Valley.

Tweets, posts, snapchats, pins, or whatever it takes to get Clark the recognition she deserves, it’s all right there on the screen in front of us. All we have to do is spell it out, in fewer than 140 characters, and click or tap: Kelly Clark; Dover native; Dover School and Mount Snow Academy alum; world and Olympic champion; greatest women’s halfpipe boarder ever.
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