All it took was 100 percent
Park Record columnist
A decade has passed since that glorious morning in the Swiss Alps day two of the 2003 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz. It was a day Maine’s Kirsten Clark will never forget.
On Saturday, at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame induction in Vail, Clark reflected back to that day in St. Moritz. "Clarkie" and World Champion moguls skier Jeremy Bloom were among Saturday’s inductees, joining fellow legends like Wayne Wong with the highest recognition in skisport.
A quiet leader and role model, Clarkie was a consistent performer on the U.S. Ski Team downhill squad. A year earlier at the Olympics at Snowbasin, the American women hadn’t cracked the top 10 in the speed events. St. Moritz would be different.
With 17 racers into the finish, her teammate, Jonna Mendes, was in the lead. Five skiers later, it was Clarkie’s turn to attack the wide open pitch of the Engiadina.
She recalled the simple words her coach Chip White said earlier that day. "As a coach, all I can ask is that you give 100 percent," he told Clarkie. "I can’t ask you to do more. Just give it 100 percent."
And she did, moving into the lead over Mendes by a mere .13 of a second. Austrian Mikaela Dorfmeister would spoil Clark’s gold by two-hundredths. But the silver-bronze combo of Clark and Mendes was the best U.S. women’s finish at Worlds in nearly two decades. And all it took was 100 percent.
Bloom’s performance in the bumps and on the gridiron captivated the sports world in the mid-2000s. The Loveland, Colo., native was a gifted athlete, growing up bump skiing at Keystone and Breckenridge. He went on to win a World Championship in 2003 at Deer Valley and strung together six straight World Cup wins in 2005 a record he held until just a year ago.
But it almost never happened. Going into his freshman year at the University of Colorado, Bloom gave up on moguls. Already set to start as cornerback for the Buffs football team, he was passed up by the U.S. Ski Team’s freestyle squad. However, friends convinced him to give skiing one more try and to go on his own to the team’s preseason camp in Chile. The hard-working Bloom made an impression. The CU football team let him ski. And the rest is history.
"Tonight is about all the people who helped me get here," Bloom said Saturday. And there were plenty.
Saturday was about his parents who put him on skis, his friends who pushed him, his football coaches at Loveland High School, his Breckenridge moguls coach Scott Rawles (now moguls head coach for the U.S. Ski Team), the fans, the sponsors an entire team of supporters who helped him become the best moguls skier in the world.
Their careers behind them, Clark and Bloom are well into their post-team lives. Clark and husband Andreas Rickenbach are raising three children in Tahoe and staying close to ski racing. Bloom established himself as a technology entrepreneur with his Integrate.com startup, focusing on digital advertising technology. But his passion lies with his innovative charity, Wish of a Lifetime, where he takes great personal joy in providing seniors with their wishes.
Hall of Fame inductions always provide reflection memories of athletic accomplishments past and reunions of old friends. More than anything else, though, they are a way of saying thank you to the legions of supporters who made an athlete’s career possible. That’s the magic of sport. That’s the power of Olympism.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame induction is coming to Park City next year, March 31-April 6, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Park City Mountain Resort along with the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Ski Team in town.
One of the most experienced communications professionals in skiing, Tom Kelly is a veteran of eight Olympics and serves as vice president, Communications, for the Park City-based U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. A Wisconsin native, he and his wife Carole Duh have lived in Park City since 1988 when he’s not traveling the world with the team.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.