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Stars on snow

Some of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders got their starts on the mountains of New England
By KATE COHEN  |  November 9, 2006

Anyone who’s spent a day skidding along the ice-plagued trails of a New England ski resort knows that the snow around here can be hard to love. Yet some of the world’s finest pro skiers and snowboarders — athletes who regularly populate the winners’ podium — grew up traversing the very same slopes. Clearly there is something to be said about learning how to ski and ride on a sometimes-unpredictable New England mountain.

Does the magic lie in, say, Hannah Teter’s family recipe for maple syrup? Or does our snow, a far cry from the perfect daily powder out West, offer the tough love necessary to churn out top-tier athletes?

“If you can ride the East you can ride almost anywhere,” says veteran half-pipe champ Ross Powers. And Powers is just one of several Olympians who paid their dues on local mountains before hitting the world stage.

Kelly Clark

CLARK: Higher and tighter.
Clark may have narrowly missed an Olympic medal at the Torino games in 2006, but her undoing on her final half-pipe run was emblematic of her stature as one of the most talented female snowboarders on the pro circuit. The trick in question was a 900 degree spin, which she completed before faltering on the landing. Teammates and fellow New Englanders Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler took gold and silver, respectively, but Clark remains one of the sport’s great talents.

Half-pipe riders can often seem indistinguishable in their baggy pants and jackets, but spectators typically know when they are seeing a Kelly Clark run. She’s literally head and shoulders above the rest, flying higher and turning tighter tricks. Born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1983, Clark grew up near Mount Snow, Vermont, where she was riding a snowboard at eight.

Growing up there, she says via e-mail, “was great. They take great care of their terrain.” She attended Mount Snow Academy, a small private school where the academic schedule is tailored to students who train on the nearby slopes. Although Mount Snow keeps close tabs on Clark and has devoted a section of its town Web site to her successes, Clark has lived in California since 2001.

Despite the fourth-place Olympic finish in 2006, Clark is no stranger to the winners’ podium. She won Winter X gold in 2002 and 2006, and the gold medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Eighteen years old at the time, she was the youngest competitor on the US team and possibly one of its toughest, riding with a bruised tailbone and broken wrist sustained in an earlier practice run. She is also one of the founding members of “The Collection,” a collaboration of top riders who combine marketing and promotional opportunities with the support system of athletic training.

Hannah Teter

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Culture and Lifestyle, Sports, Snowboarding,  More more >
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