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

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U.S. snowboarder briefly paralyzed in New Zealand crash

Ryan Lochte, with new coach, races in first meet since Olympics

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Ryan Lochte is back in the competition pool.

The 12-time Olympic medalist, suspended from USA Swimming and international meets through June, won a 200-yard individual medley at the U.S. Masters nationals in Riverside, Calif., on Friday. He also finished second in a 100-yard breaststroke.

Full results are here.

Lochte has moved to the Los Angeles area and is now coached by the University of Southern California’s Dave Salo until his fiancée’s baby is born (likely June). After that, they will re-evaluate his plan, Salo said.

Lochte was formerly coached by Gregg Troy from 2002-13 at the University of Florida, where he attended college and matured to become an Olympian in 2004. Lochte won 11 Olympic medals under Troy and became the world’s best swimmer going into the 2012 Olympics.

In 2013, Lochte moved from Gainesville to Charlotte and trained under David Marsh through the Rio Games. Lochte said last summer that he planned to move to California.

Lochte has also said he plans to try for a fifth Olympics in 2020, but his immediate future is about to get very busy — becoming a father, becoming a husband and the end of his ban.

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Jesse Owens’ Olympic gold medals up for auction

Jesse Owens
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Two of Jesse Owens‘ four 1936 Berlin Olympic gold medals will be auctioned in August, according to Heritage Auctions.

Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Games, triumphing in the face of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany by taking the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.

Owens gifted one gold medal to entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, according to “Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson.”

That medal was auctioned for in 2013 for $1,466,574, the highest price ever for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.

Owens used his three other Olympic golds as payment for a Pittsburgh hotel stay in the mid-1950s, according to “Intelligent Collector,” a magazine affiliated with Heritage Auctions, which is housing the August auction with Owens’ medals.

“Jesse didn’t have the financial means to pay for his stay at Mr. Harry Bailey’s hotel,” said Albert DeVito, son of a local handyman who ended up with the two gold medals being auctioned, according to the magazine. “So he gave his medals to Harry as his payment for expenses incurred.”

DeVito’s father was later gifted the three gold medals by the hotel owner Bailey for previously lending him money. DeVito’s father kept two and gave back to Bailey one gold medal whose whereabouts are unknown, according to the magazine.

DeVito thought to sell the remaining two gold medals after seeing the 2013 auction.

“It wasn’t until that first gold medal sold that we even thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. These things are worth something!'” DeVito said, according to the magazine.

It’s unknown which of the gold medals corresponds to which Olympic event, as they are not specified on the medals.

Before Owens’ death in 1980, the sprinter reportedly said he had lost the four gold medals. The German government replaced them, and they now rest at Ohio State, Owens’ alma mater.

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