While this is the fourth time in a row that Clark has ridden her way onto Team USA, for this hometown hero the thrill of an international competition is unlike any other. “It never gets less special,” said Clark. “It’s pretty overwhelming the first time, but now it’s the event I look forward to the most. But I’ve really grown up, and it’s really different to go to the Olympics as a 30-year-old instead of an 18-year-old. I’m more comfortable because I’m not trying to prove to others who I am.”
Clark has always provided a special connection for the Deerfield Valley to the Winter Olympics, but this year adds more reason for the televisions in our local bars and living rooms to switch from hockey and basketball games for a night, over to the action in Russia. Clark is leading a group of three Mount Snow Academy graduates competing in Sochi, including another Dover native, Devin Logan.
Competing in her first Olympics and fulfilling her childhood dream, Logan will compete in the slopestyle skiing competitions, after icing her place on Team USA with a first-place finish at the Visa US Freeskiing Grand Prix in Park City, UT. Eliza Outtrim, a native of Hamden, CT, also graduated from MSA and will compete in the freestyle skiing moguls competition.
To have three riders from MSA on the world’s stage is no small accomplishment, and one of these three riders’ biggest fans is the director of MSA, Lynne Sullivan, who says she isn’t surprised to see these competitors in the spotlight. “I’ll not at all be surprised if they reach the podium, I really think they’ll do well,” said Sullivan. “It makes us very proud and shows clearly the commitment of the kids and the coaches. We’re small enough, and pride ourselves on our ability to provide individual attention. We’ll be glued to the TV the nights of their performances.”
Sullivan also said that the success of Clark, Logan, and Outtrim is inspiring to their current riders who are also learning just how hard these three had to work to get to the top. Clark says that the effect MSA had on her career is invaluable, along with growing up in her family’s restaurant where she saw hard work firsthand from a young age. “Mount Snow is probably the leader in investing in their terrain parks and their pipes and I think their investment into these sports and this culture has really produced the athletes we see today,” said Clark. “It’s given us the place to train and develop on a world-class scale. Their facilities are what got us ready, and I’m thankful to have grown up at Mount Snow and grown up in the valley, too.”
While Clark has had 12 years to get used to the big interviews, the fanfare, and the overwhelming feelings that go along with being the face of your nation, Clark’s advice to her first-year teammates is simple: enjoy it. “If you make it into a bigger deal than it needs to be, you can lose focus on the task at hand,” said Clark. “It’s important to keep focused on the things you can control, and on top of that, really take time to take it in. It should be enjoyed.”
Outtrim’s preliminary mogul competition will be tonight, while the finals will be on Saturday night. Logan’s participation in the freestyle slopestyle skiing competition will be on Tuesday, February 11, and Clark will compete in the halfpipe on Wednesday, February 12.