Clark, Logan are setting the tone
There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.
I am not sure when I first heard this quote from former United States Secretary of State and UN Ambassador, Madeline Albright; but her words of wisdom regarding the mistakes of women failing to mentor one another especially held true on International Women's Day, which is celebrated on March 8 each year.
Since the early 1900s, International Women's Day has served as a marker to celebrate the achievements of women in the past, present and future. The 2015 theme is Making it Happen.
For women in sports — particularly action sports — each moment that they train or step foot on a competition course, they're focused on making it happen. Women in action sports have clawed their way towards competitively growing their sports while simultaneously seeking economic sustainability. Their individual journeys have not been easy, but they continue to pursue financial advancement and sponsorship recognition.
It is the strength of long-standing veteran, professional snowboarder Kelly Clark, and up-and-comer, professional freeskier Devin Logan, who are setting the tone for the future of women in action sports.
The 31-year-old Clark is a 16-year veteran who has accumulated 70 plus career wins. Known for her style, amplitude, and technicality, she is the only woman to land a 1080 in competition.
Today, opportunities are available for women to compete as professional snowboarders in large part because of athletes like Clark. She started riding before the X Games existed and before snowboarding was a "cool" Olympic sport. Clark remembers recording the 1998 Olympics on VHS tapes and using the brief 40 minutes of airtime as motivation to compete at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. There, the sport took a turn into the mainstream with eight hours of coverage; although, it was Clark's gold medal performance that solidified her desire to compete professionally.
She is a mentor to her fellow competitors and has 14-year-old Chole Kim — who narrowly unseated Clark at the 2015 X Games — nipping at her heels. Although, she recently held off Kim to win her eighth Burton U.S. Open title while competing at Vail Mountain's Golden Peak halfpipe.
Earlier this season, Clark spoke with FORBES.com and explained that her career is no longer about wins and losses, but instead she is focused on progressing the sport and being known for showing people what is possible on a snowboard.
"I realized in the last few months that I am not here to get anything anymore," said Clark. "I am here to contribute to the sport. It is no secret that some of these women will do tricks or will take the sport to a place where I never could. But I am going to take it as far as I can and hand it off."
Throughout her journey, she has stayed true to her goal of leaving the sport in good hands. So, it is no surprise that Clark's influence on other athletes moves beyond snowboarding.
She is a role model to fellow 2014 Olympian, Logan, who hails from Clark's home mountain in West Dover. Considered one of the most decorated freeskiers, Logan won the silver medal in the inaugural showing of slopestyle. At 22-years-old, she balances two disciplines — slopestyle and halfpipe — and is poised to lead freeskiing using lessons learned from watching Clark.
"I have learned so much from her — from how to deal with pressure to public speaking and relating your story in a passionate way," said Logan to FORBES.com. "She keeps going and pushing herself and she still has goals she wants to reach. She is not done snowboarding yet. I hope in 10 years I am doing the same and raising the bar in the industry."
Clark continues to invest in the next generation of female riders. In 2010, she started the Kelly Clark Foundation, which donated over $100,000 in grants this year.
"I don't want it to live and die with my ability to perform," Clark said. "So, I've taken it upon myself to figure out how to financially give back, how to create opportunities, and how to work with companies to build up the younger riders."
Together, Clark and Logan are making it happen in action sports. While situated on opposite ends of their careers, they continue to break traditional barriers that once separated men and women in terms of competition and compensation. But most importantly Clark and Logan continue to live, ski, and snowboard by Secretary Albright's golden rule.
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