Kelly Clark back where it all began |

Kelly Clark back where it all began

Sarah Brunson/USSA

The Sprint U.S. Grand Prix didn’t go the way snowboarder Kelly Clark had imagined.

One of the best halfpipe riders in history, Clark fell twice during the snowboard halfpipe finals on Friday afternoon at Park City Mountain Resort, finishing last among the six finalists.

Despite the struggles she faced over the weekend, Park City still holds many fantastic memories for Clark.

In 2002, Clark found herself standing on top of the podium at the Winter Olympics, after winning her first gold medal.

"That was a huge moment in my career," Clark said. "Coming back to Park City is always flooded with good memories. It’s a pretty overwhelming memory and experience for me."

Standing on the podium after the Olympic halfpipe event, the 18-year-old Clark pondered the moment and her career.

"It was only five months after 9/11 and it was good to be a part of something people could be excited about," she said. "All of a sudden I was very established."

She added that the 2002 Olympics were a launching point for U.S. snowboarding.

"The men sweeping the podium and me ending up on top really thrust the sport into the mainstream in America," she said.

After that first gold, Clark started earning more and more first-place finishes.

In fact, she’s won three straight gold medals in the superpipe event at the X Games and four overall.

After the X Games, which Clark called the climax of her season, she was looking at the Grand Prix, as a way to prepare for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"I have a list of tricks that I’m working on to kind of insert into my current run," she said. "I kind of take them one at a time."

Next up, she’ll take part in an Olympic test event in Sochi later this month.

Boarder Jiayu Liu took first place in the Grand Prix, becoming the first Chinese athlete ever to win a Grand Prix event. Americans Arielle Gold and Kaitlyn Farrington took second and third, respectively.

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