Snowboarding isn’t an easy sport, but that hasn’t stopped a plethora of talented athletes from pushing themselves in the hopes of joining the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team in PyeongChang for the Winter Olympics this year.
The team, whose trustees include big names from the financial world like Stifel Financial Corps co-chairs Thomas Weisel and Ron Kruszewski, is looking forward to this year’s competitions in particular: It’s the 20th anniversary of snowboarding being recognized as an official Olympic sport.
Some of the most talented athletes in the country are vying for their chance to display their skills in PyeongChang—no matter what their age. Veteran snowboarder Kelly Clark, who has now qualified for her fifth Olympic Games, has won three medals for the U.S. since 1998—one gold and two bronze. At age 34, Clark is “old” compared to her teammates (many of whom are under 20). Yet she was the first US snowboarder male or female to compete in four Olympics—and now she’ll become the first to compete in five.
“I’m not out here to prove anything to anyone else, but simply to reach my goals and hit my potential as an athlete,” Clark said.
On the men’s side, well-known snowboarder Shaun White is back from a training injury and looking to win gold in South Korea. White earned his stripes in the 2006 Turin Games, where he won the first of his two gold medals and essentially became the face of the sport around the world. Subsequently, however, his performances have been comparatively subpar, and the injury took him out of the game entirely for a while.
Now, however, White is looking forward with optimism to the Olympics. He scored a perfect 100 at the U.S. Grand Prix in Colorado this month, which he sees as a positive sign with respect to his chances at the Olympics after a lot of dedication and practice.
“Getting that 100 was just awesome,” White said. “I felt like I was on the right track, and all this hard work I put in over the holidays was paying off.”
Together with their potential teammates, Clark and White are likely to give the U.S. Team a serious chance of medalling at the Winter Olympics this year.