2002 gold medalist
Technically speaking, Clark is ready to go
Now that snowboarder Kelly Clark is on her way to Vancouver, she can spend more time working on the technical aspects of her riding that earned her a third consecutive trip to the Olympics.
Clark, the 2002 Olympic gold medalist who finished fourth at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin and is one of the sport’s most dominant figures, secured her place on the US halfpipe team last week with her second of two consecutive US Snowboard Grand Prix victories in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
“I worked really hard before this qualification process to prepare every way I could,’’ she said. “I couldn’t have been happier to have this done by the second event. This enables me to use the rest of the qualifiers heading to Vancouver as simply practice. That is some of the best riding you can do.’’
The 26-year-old Mount Snow Academy graduate who grew up in West Dover, Vt., said she’ll compete in the US Snowboard Grand Prix Jan. 22-23 in Park City, Utah, followed by the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., Jan. 28-31. She doesn’t expect to return to Vermont for the Winter Dew Tour finals in early February at Mount Snow.
“I definitely have some things to work on in my riding and I’ll start to see those things come together,’’ she said. “I’ll be doing the most technically difficult runs I can do in Vancouver and I’ll be working on that until I get there.’’
Clark is known for her keen ability to soar high over the halfpipe’s icy walls and has adapted her style and tricks well in a fast-changing sport demanding new flips and twists.
“Snowboarding is a continually progressing sport,’’ she said. “The run I did in 2002 was very difficult for the time. My snowboarding and the sport has come a long way since then. I think the runs back then were equally hard in their own day and now it is just the same.’’
Clark has also started the Kelly Clark Foundation to provide financial scholarships to young snowboarders that will allow them to attend mountain schools. She was the recipient of several scholarships during her Mount Snow days.
“I want to be able to give kids an opportunity to pursue their dreams,’’ she said.
From December through March, Zucker, 65, runs about five or six miles at least twice a week on snowshoes.
“You run one mile on snowshoes, it’s like running two miles on trails or the roads. You get more bang for the buck. There is some give and slip, but there’s also the weight of the snowshoes,’’ he said.
Zucker has entered some New England snowshoe races and will be race director for the Northern Vermont Snowshoe Race and Family Snowshoe Festival Feb. 7 but doesn’t compete in races he oversees.
“I don’t like to stay idle in winter and sit on the sofa eating potato chips,’’ said the Jeffersonville, Vt., resident.
Zucker’s impressive running résumé includes several Boston Marathons, Mount Washington Hillclimbs, and age category records. Last year he shaved 10 minutes off the record in the 65-69 division of North Carolina’s Umstead 100, finishing in 19 hours 46 minutes. Planned surgery later this month will keep him off the snow for a couple of weeks and prevent him from competing in the rugged Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathon in March.
But he’s tough. He was running eight days after a summer hernia operation.
“I’d like to get back on snowshoes by the end of February,’’ he said.
The magazine predicts the University of Colorado, this year’s host of the finals in March, will win the crown, based largely on the fact that Colorado won 90 percent of its meets last year before running into bad luck in the finals at Sunday River. Colorado has most of its team returning.
Close behind in the rankings comes Denver, which won it all last year and still has a strong team despite graduation depletion. Picked third is Alaska, which is strong enough in all disciplines to contend.
Then comes the University of Vermont, which should be in the late-season mix. But UVM first must get past two tough Eastern powers in Dartmouth and Middlebury. Rounding out the top five is New Mexico, which gets its high ranking largely on the strength of its women’s Alpine team.
Globe correspondents Tony Chamberlain and T.D. Thornton contributed to this report.