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.
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.