Motivated Kelly Clark shrugs off critics after Olympic bronze

Kelly Clark

Kelly Clark isn’t done snowboarding, not after four Olympics (three medals), 15 Winter X Games (nine medals) and more than 60 victories and 100 podium finishes.

She isn’t done, because she thinks she can still do better.

“I don’t feel like I’ve really hit my potential,” Clark said in New York last week. “I’m going to keep chasing down my dreams and chasing down the progression of my own personal riding and continuing to raise my own bar.”

Clark, 31, won bronze at the Sochi Olympics, when most predicted she would win gold.

What most didn’t see was Clark falling on all five of her practice runs and her first of two competition runs the night of the final.

She was the last rider to go on the second run and didn’t fall under that pressure. She posted a 90.75 to jump on the podium with gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington and silver medalist Torah Bright.

“That was probably one of the greatest victories I’ve ever had,” Clark said. “My bronze medal run in Vancouver [2010] and in Sochi, it wasn’t my best snowboarding. But in the context of the events and in the situation that I was at, it took a lot more work to get those bronze medals than it did some of my X Games wins and even my Olympic gold in Salt Lake [City in 2002]. I think you value things based on what they cost you.”

You choked, she heard people say.

“If I was doing it for the medals, I would’ve quit a long time ago,” Clark responded.

She’s doing it for the same reasons as before Sochi — pursuing progression. After the Olympics, Clark rode all the way through May, including winning her seventh U.S. Open in March.

“She’s still the best, if not one of the best, easily,” U.S. snowboarding and freeskiing coach Mike Jankowski said. “The Olympics are a great event, but it’s one night.”

Clark is still perfecting her cab 1080, which she tried at a handful of events last season. The former high school tennis standout will begin the 2014-15 season at a U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo., in the first week of December.

She loves snowboarding more now than when she started. Clark spent three weeks riding in Mt. Hood, Ore., in July, then trained in Chile and just got back from more riding in Austria.

“As long as I have things that I want to learn, that’ll be what governs [how long I compete],” Clark said. “For me, the Olympics aren’t a destination. They’re simply a wonderful addition to a great snowboarding career.”

Clark’s competition this season figures to include the surprise Olympic champion Farrington and the formidable 14-year-old Chloe Kim. Kim was born three months after Clark debuted at the Winter X Games in slopestyle and snowboard cross (but not halfpipe) in 2000.

Kim finished one spot behind Clark at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships and the Winter X Games last season, but she was too young for the Olympics. Clark will go for her fifth straight X Games halfpipe gold in Aspen, Colo., in late January, which would put her one behind Shaun White‘s streak that ended last year.

“I never really look at what the other girls are going to shape my approach,” Clark said. “I look at Kaitlyn, I look at Torah, [2006 Olympic champion] Hannah [Teter] and Chloe, you get inspired by what people do, but I never look at them to shape the decisions that I make.”

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U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup

The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new up-tempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup

The U.S. women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headlined a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, included neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team had nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 60 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The U.S. beat China in the final, while host Australia took bronze to send 41-year-old Lauren Jackson into retirement.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), wasn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule, Results

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA 88, Serbia 55 Quarterfinals
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada 79, Puerto Rico 60 Quarterfinals
4 a.m. China 85, France 71 Quarterfinals
6:30 a.m. Australia 86, Belgium 69 Quarterfinals
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. USA 83, Canada 43 Semifinals
5:30 a.m. China 61, Australia 59 Semifinals
11 p.m. Australia 95, Canada 65 Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. USA 83, China 61 Gold-Medal Game