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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The calm before X

By Kelly Clark

Kelly Clark
Kelly Clark is closing out her very successful season at the X Games in Tignes, France.

After being on the road for what seemed like forever, I had about a week where I was able to relax and decompress at home in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., before I headed to the X Games in Tignes, France.

So, what did I do? I kept myself busy with a little spring cleaning and getting reacquainted with my fish tank. I've got a few clownfish (I call them Nemos plural), a bunch of hermit crabs, snails, a cleaner shrimp that looks like the little red shrimp from "Finding Nemo," and probably 10 or more live coral.

I can't have a "conventional" pet like a dog with all my traveling, so this is more realistic for me. I grew up with fish tanks -- my parents always had a few at their restaurant in Vermont -- and I just got this one about six months ago. Salt water tanks are cool because they're these little self-contained ecosystems. It's a hobby, something you have to work on, which is my style. I'm kind of nerdy like that.

We also got a great "pow" (powder) day at Mammoth Mountain while I was in town. Everybody loves a good pow day, but this year every time it's been snowing I've had a big contest that I had to save my body for -- the U.S. Open, European Open, and the Olympic test event in Russia -- so I couldn't take advantage of it. Basically, the plan of attack for a pow day is to rally up with friends and figure out the different lift schedules so you can get to the fresh tracks before everyone else.

One of my favorite spots in Mammoth is called Hemlocks. It's a short hike, which helps keep some of the crowds down, but the terrain is steep and really fun. I hung out with the team manager for Giro, Todd Kupke. He's at all the halfpipe contests standing at the top of the pipe so it's cool when we get to ride pow together and find little things to jump off of and post to Instagram.

Kelly Clark
Photo of the halfpipe in Tignes, by Kelly Clark.

Now I'm in France at the European X Games. It never feels as big as Aspen until you get here, but there's always a huge crowd. And the venue has one of the best halfpipes we ride all year. They build it early in the season so the snow packs up nicely, making for a good consistent ride. And of course it's the end of the season so everyone is totally primed. You see the most technical runs of the year at Tignes because everyone is already at a high level pushing for more.

The contest is on Wednesday night -- I think because of the TV schedule with March Madness. Some years we don't even adjust to the time zone -- we just have night practice and then sleep in all day. I'm going to call it a season after this competition, so I want to go out on a high note.

I'm planning on sticking around afterward to go to Paris and do it up tourist style with my brother and his wife. We're going to see everything from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Opera District. The name of the game is sightseeing and eating well.

But it's definitely not time to relax yet. There's still one more big event to go -- and I'm hoping to have reason to celebrate after it.