Snowboarder Kelly Clark's Ride Toward the Olympics

Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark on how she’s prepping for the Sochi Games.

Kelly Clark
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How do you get into the right mental mindset to compete so successfully?

I don't want to say I isolate myself, but I definitely protect the environment I'm in, and that helps me perform at a high level. I listen to music when I compete to protect what I hear, for example, so I can stay focused on the task at hand. I don't need to be thinking about what the announcers are saying or what my competitors are saying; I need to stay focused on the process that I'm in, because I never want to get ahead of myself and think about the outcome. I find that you're not able to perform well when you're focused on the outcome and step outside the process.

I've also been working with a sports psychologist for the last four years. I think people can look to athletics and say it's all physical, or it's all mental, but at the end of the day – physically, no one can do what we do on snowboards. It's got to be 95 percent physical; your average person couldn't just drop in and figure it out. But that 5 percent mental can completely erase your 95 percent of prep work if you allow it to.

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What are you most looking forward to about this year's Olympics?

I've learned that the Olympics shouldn't be treated as a destination. And they're not a place that you arrive at – they're not something that should define you. My experience has given me that perspective, and that was something that was very successful for me at the last Olympics – I really enjoyed it. I don't want to get done and be relieved it's over. I want to enjoy it. I want to be excellent. I want to see if I have what it takes, and I want to give it my all. I think it should be fun, because that's why I started snowboarding.