About the time the rest of us were discovering how to hop lasso at recess, 7-year-old Kelly Clark was already mastering the cutthroat athletic of snowboarding.
The Newport, Rhode Island native started emulating in 1999 and became an Olympic gold medalist for the women’s halfpipe in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Now, 16 year later, Clark thoughts into the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang as snowboarding’s most decorated Olympian.
The 34 -year-old’s long roll of accomplishments include 5-time World Snowboard Tour season champion, 8-time Burton U.S. Open halfpipe champion, 7-time X Games halfpipe gold medalist, and 2-time Olympic halfpipe bronze medalist. She’s basically the Michael Phelps of snowboarding.
But as it goes with all honors, their sense of fulfillment faded with time.
Clark specially recalls her Olympic victory in 2002, which marked a symbolic acquire for the society when she took the first American gold after the 9/11 attacks.
“I smacked the peak, the steeple, ” remarked Clark. “It was unbelievable.”
But just a few months later, after the word interviews, hometown processions, and worldwide praise died down, she found herself experiencing empty once again.
“In all those external success, I was genuinely looking for that gumption of importance, ” said Clark. “I consider our greatest demand as humen is to be significant, and we’ll look for that everywhere. That’s just what I did with my snowboarding.”
The following year, she inaugurated expecting herself one unsettling doubt repeatedly: “Now what? ”
It was that simple-minded yet chewing question that would cause her down a itinerary of self-reflection and chase of her savior Jesus Christ.
Her coach that following season, Rick Bower , observed a distinct altered in Clark after her big Olympic win. They were now both have to deal with the challenges facing realise best available snowboarder in the world even better , and it was a daunting assignment that clearly weighed on the athlete.
Clark felt herself disintegrating for the purposes of the load of her own expectation and the gold-standard she had adjusted for herself.
“She was not detecting are attached to anything, ” Bower did. “She was really fighting. You could see that struggle.”
Feeling improbably depressed before her first episode of the season that year( and once the website of her biggest busines attainment ), Clark swarmed her heartache out in her journal.
“I don’t care if I wake up tomorrow, and I don’t visualize anybody else maintenances, ” she wrote.
Even in her state of despair, she managed to qualify for finals, but it precisely didn’t carry the same meaning that it did before. It was during this low notes that Clark overheard something that would change the course of her spiritual journey.
After one girl failed to qualify, she discovered another high-profile snowboarder whisper these terms to her: “Hey, it’s all right. God still loves you. You don’t need to cry.”
Those words sank deep into Clark’s soul. Outside of checking the occasional “Jesus loves you” plastered on billboards and bumper stickers, she truly didn’t know what this Christianity thing was all about–but she had a newfound igniting desire to find out.
That same night, she mined a Bible out of her inn room drawer and began to seek out refutes for herself.
“I was like,’ Uh, I don’t even know how to read this, ” declared Clark.
Lucky for her, her contestant who was disqualified from the finals just so happened to be in the same hotel.
In a leap of faith, Clark knocked on her opening and told, “I think you might be a Christian, and I think you need to tell me about God.”
Nearly 15 year later, Clark is still grateful for that encounter clearly orchestrated by the mitt of God.
“I knocked on the right opening, ” she said.
Through diving into Scripture, get substantiate from other Christian snowboarders, and reading Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life , Clark came to the unshakeable conclusion that Jesus Christ is Lord–and her life has been radically changed ever since.
“He was very real, exceedingly represented in “peoples lives”, ” spoke Clark. “I gave my soul to the Lord that day.”
For years, the snowboarding lore has gone with a 6-word meaning boldly stamped on the topside of her committee: “Jesus, I cannot hide my love.”
After receiving the great discovery of God’s love for her and Jesus’ eventual sacrifice, Clark wants nothing more than to use her pulpit to establish Christ’s love known to the rest of the world.
The wholly altered athlete can even process omission now in a way that she never could before, as she knows Jesus already endured her shame and disgrace on the cross so she wouldn’t have to.
Coach Bower took a written notice of her renewed mental approach “by trusting God’s plan for her before each extend, ” specially when she took an upsetting fourth-place finish in the 2006 Olympics after a drop. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Clark was grateful and got back up again.
Her drops-off and her failures no longer characterize her. Christ does.
“[ Her religion] helped her focus, ” added Bower. “It returned her some perspective that was beyond only herself. She found special purposes in life.”