Michael Appelgate
The Aspen Times
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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January 26, 2013
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Clark's quest for the trifecta

She's called the most dominant female snowboard athlete of the past two years.

In reality, it's not just the past two years. Kelly Clark is the most decorated women's superpipe athlete of all time.

And she's not done yet.

Clark will compete at 7:15 tonight for an unprecedented third straight gold medal in the superpipe. Since her first medal in the X Games in 2004, Clark has missed the podium just twice. The West Dover, Vt., product claimed her first gold in 2006, and two years ago, she landed the event's first 1080 to begin her gold-medal streak.

Pushing the envelope is common in winter-action sports. But Clark distances herself by not just setting a high bar, but also making it common.

The 1080 is now a routine trick in her runs, and something onlookers can expect from her at Buttermilk. When she landed the first 1080 in 2011, Clark said it was just a progression in ability for her career.

"It's not just about one trick," Clark said last week. "I inserted both the 900 and 1080 in the run. It's about the whole package, and it showed everyone that the 1080 wasn't just a one-time trick. That is pretty much a part of my run."

Two weeks ago, Clark competed in a FIS World Cup competition at Copper Mountain, and wound up second after falling on her first run and rebounding in her second. In December, she finished fifth in a Dew Tour stop in Breckenridge.

"These are stepping stones for the X Games," Clark said. "I'm starting to do the more technical tricks. It's all building for me."

Her biggest competition seemingly will be Elena Hight, who, in a press conference Wednesday afternoon, was asked if she would attempt a double backside alley-oop rodeo - known as a double cork. It was reported that she landed one earlier that afternoon in practice. If the 23-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., lands the trick, she would join Shaun White and Danny Davis as the only two other snowboarders to land it in competition.

"It's the only double I've tried," Hight, who claimed silver to Clark last year, said. "I wouldn't want to do some of the doubles that Shaun [White] or some of the guys do. Hopefully, I can get it going, and show it off at X Games."

When Snowmass Village's Gretchen Bleiler announced she pulled out of the games Wednesday evening, the field notably shrunk, but still has reigning Olympic gold medalist Torah Bright of Australia.

Clark didn't say if she was going to unveil any new tricks of her own. But did say she's drawing inspiration from her competitors all the time.

"This season I feel stronger than I've ever been and more confident," Clark said. " "It would be wonderful to win the three-peat. Experience is priceless, and it's one of the most valuable things out there."

mappelgate@aspentimes.com


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 26, 2013 02:03AM Published Jan 26, 2013 02:01AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.