January 25, 2019 / 10:44 PM / 7 months ago

Snowboarding: Former Olympic champion Clark announces retirement

FILE PHOTO: Snowboarding - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's Halfpipe Finals - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 13, 2018 - Kelly Clark of the U.S. reacts after her run. REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Reuters) - Three-times Olympic medalist Kelly Clark, a trailblazer who pushed the progression of snowboarding to new levels, announced her retirement on Friday after a career that spanned 18 years as a member of the U.S. Snowboard Team.

Clark is a five-times Olympian who at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games became the first American to win Olympic gold in snowboarding. She also has 13 snowboard world cup halfpipe victories and 21 consecutive superpipe appearances at X Games Aspen where she finished on the podium 14 times.

In 2011, Clark became the first woman to land a 1080 in competition and is still one of a only a handful of women to successfully land the trick.

“Since 2000 when Kelly first made the U.S. Snowboard Team, she has been leading the sport, not just in the USA but worldwide, and she leaves an astonishing legacy as her competitive career comes to a close,” U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Director Jeremy Forster.

Clark’s Olympic gold in 2002 put her on top of what was a young sport at the time and she continued to raise the bar with halfpipe bronze medals at both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The 35-year-old American’s five Olympic appearances are the most of any competitive snowboarder and she has won more than 70 career events.

Clark plans to give back to the sport through a foundation she founded in 2010 that provides youth with resources and opportunities to achieve their potential through snowboarding.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Gene Cherry

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