Clark wins to make fourth US Olympic team

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 21, 2013 at 10:48 pm •  Published: December 21, 2013

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (AP) — Kelly Clark made it from the couch to the Olympics, all in the span of a few hours.

Hurting with a stomach bug that left her couch-bound most of the day, the snowboarder secured a spot on her fourth Olympics team Saturday night with a near-perfect run on the halfpipe at the U.S. Grand Prix.

"To be honest, it's hard for me to compute right now," said the 2002 Olympic champion and 2010 bronze medalist. "You plan, you dream, you train and it happens and you're kind of in awe."

Clark had the contest wrapped up when nobody in the second round could beat the score of 95 she had posted on her first trip down the pipe. Instead of coasting down to collect the winner's check, she increased the degree of difficulty on the second run, mixing a frontside 1080 spin into the routine — considered one of the toughest tricks the women try.

She got rewarded: A 98.0 — two points short of perfect.

"That was the first 10 I did all day," said Clark, who didn't get off the couch until about two hours before the contest. "Usually, I'd be out in practice working on it. It was more of a conserving-energy mission tonight."

Clark topped Arielle Gold by 6.75 points for the victory. Gretchen Bleiler, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, finished third to complete an American sweep.

Bleiler is less than two years removed from a training accident in which she fractured her eye socket while practicing a trick on a trampoline.

"That put me back a long, long way," she said. "I've had to rebuild, start from scratch, it feels like. It feels real good to have come out here and done this."

Gold's brother, Taylor, won the men's event. The lowest-ranked qualifier, Gold went first in the men's contest and scored a 90.25; the mark held up over the next 31 runs, as none of the other 15 finalists could beat it in two tries.

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