Kelly Clark

Kelly Clark makes her own snowboard (video)

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Kelly Clark‘s halfpipe performance at the Sochi Olympics could aptly be called a Kelly Clark production.

The 2002 Olympic champion recently visited Burton Snowboards in her home state of Vermont and helped create one of the boards she might use this season and in Sochi.

NBC’s WPTZ has video here.

A man named Thunder, who builds Burton snowboards, helped Clark along in a process that necessitated the use of safety goggles.

“I know it’s a little hesitant,” Clark said. “You’re like, ‘Should I be making this?’

“I just appreciate it that much more. You know what goes into making it when you’re riding it. You just have that much more of a connection to the board and to the brand.”

Clark said she’ll have “a handful” of snowboards for Sochi, not just the one she helped build. Her Olympic place is not guaranteed, though. Competition for the four Olympic spots on the U.S. women’s halfpipe team will be fierce.

All four 2010 Olympic team members are in the running, including Clark, 2006 Olympic champion Hannah Teter, 2006 Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler and two-time Olympian Elena Hight. There’s also the younger generation, led by 2013 world champion Arielle Gold, 17.

The riders will go through a five-event qualification run-up, where their top two finishes will determine the standings. The Olympic team is expected to be announced Jan. 22.

At the Olympics, all four U.S. riders will be medal contenders, along with Australian Torah Bright, the defending gold medalist.

It doesn't get any better than building your own board! Thx @burtonsnowboard & @thunderware #feelgood

A photo posted by kelly clark (@thekellyclark) on

U.S. snowboarder briefly paralyzed in New Zealand crash

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career