Kelly Clark is an Olympic veteran — but after a bad first run, hugs from her competitor are what helped her get back in the game to win a bronze medal in women’s halfpipe Wednesday night.
“I was in the worst situation I’ve ever been in in an Olympic final,” Clark, who won gold in Salt Lake City and bronze in Vancouver, told TODAY.com. “I thought I had nothing left to give.”
While it was a situation she’d trained for with her coach, Clark was worried that her nerves would get the best of her — and so was her Australian competitor, Torah Bright.
“This girl was a champ for me,” Clark said about Bright, who won silver. “She saw how not in a good place I was and she gave me a hug, let me go, looked at me and said, ‘You actually need another one.’ And so she just held me until I actually calmed down enough and I slowed my breathing. It was good to have a hug from a friend.”
While the two say they go way back, it seems counterintuitive that Bright would offer a helping hand in the heat of competition on the world stage. But that’s not how she saw it.
“Kelly is a legend to me, I grew up seeing her do her thing,” Bright said. “The Olympics is about inspiring others. I am a competitor — I want to do my best — but I want my fellow competitors to do their best, too. What is the Olympic dream without the best bringing their best to the table?”
Clark said the camaraderie helped her nail that second run, and that she immediately thanked Bright for being such a good friend.
“It sums up what snowboarding should be about.”