Editor's note: This is the second in a series of articles looking back on the 2002 Winter Games in conjunction with the event's 10-year anniversary.
SALT LAKE CITY — Standing atop an Olympic podium was not the summit of Kelly Clark's life.
Instead, winning a gold medal in superpipe on the second day of the 2002 Games at Park City Mountain Resort only served to help the snowboarder better define who she was — inside and outside the sport.
"It's really easy to kind of associate success with happiness," said Clark on the eve of returning to Utah to compete for the Toyota Dew Tour Championships at Snowbasin, ironically, on the anniversary of her gold medal victory, Feb. 10, 2002. "I was 18 years old and that was my dream. What do you do when, all of a sudden, you find yourself having achieved all of your dreams and you're 18?"
If you're Kelly Clark, you enjoy the ride and seek new dreams.
"It helped me grow and find out what I value," she said. "I think it's given me longevity in the sport. It's easy to get wrapped up in the gold medal, to say this is what defines me in the sport."
But that is not the path Clark chose to travel.
"It's an incredible honor to have been part of the Olympics, to win a gold medal on home soil, but it does not define me," said Clark. "I had achieved everything that was in my heart to do, so I had to do some searching, and really just learn to be comfortable with who I am and not get mixed up in the hype of it all."
Sure she enjoyed every opportunity winning a gold medal afforded, but she kept her focus on one thing — this was the beginning of Kelly Clark's snowboarding career, not the end.
"I am coming off one of the best seasons I've ever had," said Clark, who won an X Games gold last month and a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. "I have back-to-back X Games gold, and I'm just taking this one contest, one event at a time. I have personal goals, and I'm working for them. I have won 13 contests in a row, and it's nice to be that consistent. But there are different ways to do it better, and I'm always trying to to one-up myself."