Snowboarder Kelly Clark Reveals What Life in the Olympic Village Is Really Like (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe , Alex Ungerman
Marianna Massey/Getty Images
Kelly Clark is getting the college experience she never had.
The five-time U.S. Olympian and three-time medalist -- gold in Salt Lake City in 2002 and bronze in both Vancouver and Sochi -- entered these 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang as a snowboarding legend and an idol among many of her peers in competition. Kelly remains one of the most recognizable figures in the sport, even being featured on boxes of Kellogg's Corn Flakes.
ET caught up with the athlete, who opened up about what has changed over the course of her prolific Olympic career, to what life in the Olympic Village is like, to her game-day meal and more.
ET: How have you changed the most from your first Olympics to now?
Kelly Clark: I’ve grown up a lot. Since 2002, I’m more secure in who I am now. My snowboarding has developed so much more and progressed so far. Sudden success is easier than sustaining success, and I have learned to sustain success after all these years.
If your life was made into a movie, who would you like to play you and why?
Natalie Portman, I mean, why not? I like the fact she’s a crazy good actress, but also has a degree from Harvard. She’s an overachiever – just like I am.
Which athletes are you most excited to meet during the Olympics?
One of my favorite athletes is Mikaela Shiffrin. She is so talented and continues to remain grounded at the same time. I’m always cheering for her. I also enjoyed hanging with the ‘sliding’ athletes – the luge, skeleton and bobsled teams. They’re real athletes in the fact they are so tall and ripped. At the same time, my favorite non-snowboarding event to watch at the Olympics is women’s ice hockey, so I’ll be watching my Team Kellogg’s teammate Meghan Duggan go for the gold!
Which events, outside of your sport, are you most excited to watch?
I loved watching the men’s halfpipe event. I sat with Team USA and cheered on the boys' slopestyle as well. This will be the first time big air has been in the Olympics, I’m looking forward to seeing more of that. The Olympics are unlike any other athletic event, such great stories of inspiration, but I also look forward to the Paralympic Games in March, which is where the true champions come into play like Mike Schultz.
What's life really like in the Olympic Village?
The Olympic Village is kind of like college – not that I went to college. It has the dorm room feel along with the communal cafeteria. You can tell who’s waiting to compete and who has finished their competition. The difference is the focus. It’s amazing to see all the different athletes from different nations in one place. I also enjoy the Team USA lounge area – it’s where I connect most with my friends from different sports – and we get to hang out for two weeks every four years. And there’s the pin trading, that’s huge.
What's your game-day meal?
While I’m training and back in the U.S. it's Eggos with almond butter and bananas, but I also eat my favorite cereal, Special K with red berries, always hit the spot. But during game time and while I was at the games, there’s the Haven House that USOC [United States Olympic Committee] runs. You really don’t know what you’re going to get when you’re abroad and the USOC does a great job with the Haven House. It’s super important to be comfortable with what you’re eating, so you do your best. They provide us with food that’s familiar – so we’d take the bus to the Haven House to get the home-cooked meal we needed.
What's one thing you're looking forward to eating (or treating yourself to) after the competition is over?
Pizza! I flew into New York City straight from PyeongChang, so to get some slices, that would be great. The Olympics have been a four-year journey and a lifetime journey for me – and I’ve been telling my dog, Iris, that after February we’re going to spend some more together and I’m looking forward to going home and getting refreshed and relaxed with the pup.
Biggest piece of advice for other athletes?
I’ve learned through my snowboarding career not to be defined by your results. I’ve seen so many athletes treat the Olympic Games as a destination or be something that defines them. I encourage them to make that part of their journey, not the final destination. In doing this, you can peruse your athletics with more consistency and enjoyment, if your self-worth isn’t tied up in your performance.