Kelly Clark is undisputedly the most winning female halfpipe snowboarder—ever. The 30-year-old Vermont-native has won Olympic gold and bronze medals, seven X-Games gold medals, has achieved top of the podium finishes at every major snowboard halfpipe competition, and will be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games next month.
If you are a snowboard fan, you can most likely name some signature moves from Clark’s bag of tricks and maybe even a few of her biggest competition wins, but what you don’t know about her life as an elite snowboarder might come as a surprise.
Continue reading to learn five unexpected facts about Kelly Clark.
Kelly’s only roommate is a life sized cardboard-cutout of Justin Bieber.
Clark is only home four or five days each month, so when she bought her house in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. she decided not to have any roommates. Life on the snowboard competition circuit is very social, and Clark enjoys quiet time at home.
But her roommate situation changed when her friends bought her a life-sized cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber as a gag gift for her 30th birthday. A trail of roses and candles led Clark to Bieber, who was lounging in her room.
It took Clark awhile to adjust to living with Bieber, but now she says she likes having him around. “He roams around the house and deters intruders when I’m not home,” Clark says. Most days Bieber can be found sitting at the kitchen table, relaxing on the couch, or spending time in the bathroom.
Her saltwater fish tank is her “pride and joy.”
Because she travels so often, Clark can’t have so-called real pets, but a saltwater fish tank fills the void for Clark. “You can sit here and look at it forever,” Clark says. “The more you look at it the more you see that it’s alive.”
The 34-gallon saltwater coral tank is home to two clown fish that are both named Nemos, a purple fish named Mr. Frowny face, and starfish, snails, and shrimp.
“I’ve never been very good at sittings still, but if I need a timeout I can tinker with my fish tank—clean it, move rocks around, mess with things,” Clark says. “It’s my science project, pretty fun."
Kelly’s favorite day riding this year wasn’t an epic powder day or practicing 1080s in the halfpipe.
The life of a professional snowboarder has its perks. More days on snow than not, perfect and private halfpipes, and more powder days than one’s legs can handle. But for Clark, the most rewarding ride of the season so far was a mellow day riding at Mammoth Mountain with a posse of kids.
Clark started the Kelly Clark Foundation to help youth achieve success through snowboarding and this December she had the opportunity to ride with five kids that the foundation supports.
As a young snowboarder, Clark had the opportunity to attend Mount Snow Academy, which she says was a turning point in her career. Clark was able to pursue snowboarding while continuing her education. She hopes that through the Foundation she can help other young snowboarders have the same opportunities that she had growing up.
Kelly is a do-it-yourself kind of girl.
Yes, Clark makes her own furniture, but she doesn’t have time for Pinetrest or home improvement shows. Clark’s designs are entirely original. When she bought her home in Mammoth, Clark was happy that the place was move-in ready, which meant she could focus her extra time on decorating and design to make it feel like home.
“I didn’t want things that look like I ordered it out of a magazine,” Clark says. “I wanted to mix things in that I made so it has a bit more personality.”
She sourced local pine trees and shopped at the local salvage yard to make a coffee table, and a couple of desks. She made the chandelier that hangs over the kitchen table and refinished the deck herself.
“When I refinished my deck, Bear Paints re-tweeted my before and after pictures,” Clark says. “That’s what I live for; I was psyched!”
Her Olympic Bronze Medal is her favorite, but this year she’s going for gold.
With more podium finishes, gold medals, and first place wins than any other snowboarder in the world, Clark says that she is most proud of the bronze medal she won at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
Though Clark was favored to win gold that year, a fall in the first run of finals put her in last place. “Being able to reel it in and have the opportunity to overcome [the fall] was cool for me,” Clark says.
This summer at the Burton New Zealand Open, Clark found herself in last place again after the first run of finals.
“I don't try to get myself in sketchy contests situations, but when I do I use it as an opportunity to prep for the Olympics,” Clark says. “I went and did my hardest run and went from last to first.”
At her fourth Winter Olympics in Sochi this year, Clark’s goal is to add a cab 1080 to her repertoire and link together back-to-back 1080s, which is something no woman has done before.
“People are definitely chasing me down; I’m the one with the target on my back, but that's the nature of sports,” Clark says. “I’m going to continue to try and set my own standard and stay one step ahead.”