With the Winter Olympics upon us, many fans in Vermont will be glued to the women’s snowboard halfpipe, to see a local favorite return for her fifth Winter Games.
West Dover, in Windham County, is the hometown of Kelly Clark. The halfpipe snowboarder won an Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002, a bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010, and another bronze in Sochi in 2014.
“Where you grow up is always going to be home,” said Tim Clark, the Olympian’s brother.
Tim Clark owns TC’s Family Restaurant in West Dover, which displays memorabilia from his younger sister’s successful career. Display cases include medals from the X Games, snowboards she’s ridden in competitions, and even the Corn Flakes box featuring Kelly Clark’s photo.
“She’s raised the bar, and continues to raise the bar,” Tim Clark told NBC 10 Boston. “She’s been number one for a long time, and we’re hoping she does it again—really excited to see how she does this Olympics.”
On Twitter, Kelly Clark shared a picture of her commemorative rings from an incredible five Winter Olympics. And she’s just 34.
“I loved growing up in Vermont,” the athlete recently told NBC during the lead-up to the Winter Games in South Korea.
Clark now lives in California, but remembered being a kid at the southern Vermont resort Mount Snow, wishing for big storms and school cancellations so she could get extra time on her home mountain.
“There’s a lot of Olympians that come out of Vermont,” Clark said. “It’s kind of a strange phenomenon that there’s, you know, so many high-level athletes. But I think that just kind of speaks to the culture of Vermont. There’s a small-town feel, but big achievement.”
The athlete also told NBC that growing up in Vermont gets one ready for anything, suggesting there’s a certain resourcefulness and toughness that come from an upbringing in the Green Mountain State.
“I think anyone from the Northeast can say, you know, any type of weather—they are ready,” Clark said, laughing. “And I know, even in competing, having dealt with ice storms and extremely cold days, I think there couldn't have been a better preparation for me heading into competitive snowboarding with that kind of background.”
“There’s lots and lots and lots of pride,” said Lynne Sullivan, the academic director of Mount Snow Academy, where Clark attended before graduating from Brattleboro Union High School.
Sullivan said the school’s current students look up to Clark for her contributions to the sport.
“She is the grande dame, absolutely,” Sullivan said of Clark, in reference to her years of high-level visibility in snowboarding and reputation as a role model. “And who knows, [she] may continue to be!”
Clark told NBC her plan for Pyeongchang is simple, really: to go for it, and try to win.
“The Olympics are the place where you don't want to hold back,” Clark said. “I don't want to look back and think, ‘I wish I had done something different.’”
West Dover will certainly be cheering for Kelly Clark when she competes in Korea.
“She’s going into the games with her head on straight—with positive, good energy,” Tim Clark said. “I think she’ll do really well.”