Five-time Olympian Snowboarder and Christian Kelly Clark Embraces Role as Mentor

Kelly Clark remembers every detail about the day that changed her life when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman.

She had recorded the snowboarding competition during the Olympics in Nagano, Japan. It was the first year for snowboarding to be an Olympic event. After school, she took the VHS tape and watched.

“That was the moment for me where I said, ‘This is what I want to do with my life,'” Clark said. “I’m grateful to still get to be chasing that dream down.”

Clark, who is making her fifth Olympics appearance this year, will compete in the finals Tuesday after emerging from today’s qualifying heats.

In Pyeongchang, she has taken on a larger mentorship role with the younger members on the team than ever before. For Clark, that’s one way to leave the sport better than she found it.

“I love the Olympics perhaps more than anyone,” she said. “I’m on my fifth Olympic journey. But I always kind of encourage my teammates to not make the Olympics a destination. I think it’s very easy as an athlete to get caught up in this one pinnacle event every four years.

“But you don’t need to treat it as something that should define your career,” she noted. “It should be part of your journey, not the end of your journey.”

Clark’s journey through snowboarding over the years included her conversion. As a younger snowboarder, she witnessed a fellow snowboarder who was a Christian encouraging another girl after a rough competition, and that sparked something in Clark’s heart. A few hours later, she knocked on the door of that Christian snowboarder’s room at their hotel.

“My name’s Kelly,” Clark told her. “I think you might be a Christian, and I think you need to tell me about God.”

That was the beginning of Clark’s journey to Christ, and it’s a journey in which she has grown over the years, much as she has as an athlete. Clark said snowboarding has progressed a great deal since she first began, and the tricks have changed for the better.

“If I did the run that I won with in Salt Lake, I wouldn’t even make a final today,” she said. “It’s been fun to push myself and see how snowboarding has really become a lot more established from when I first set out to pursue this dream. It’s been fun to grow with the sport and change with it and see it showcased on the world stage.”

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Source: Baptist Press