While riders like Chloe Kim, 17, have already made the team, these veterans who grew up with snowboarding in Vermont are still our medal favorites.
If you ask Stowe’s Bud Keene, the guy who coached Shaun White to two Olympic gold medals, whom he thinks will make the U.S. Olympic Snowboard Team, the former U.S. Olympic Coach of the Year doesn’t hesitate. “No question: Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter and Lindsey Jacobellis,” he says, ticking off the stars of halfpipe, slopestyle and boardercross.
That’s not too tough a question: all three women grew up riding in Vermont and already own a slew of Olympic medals. Seasoned pros who are still at the top of their games, they are fair bets to medal in PyeongChang. We might also see Stowe’s Ty Walker, who competed in Sochi in 2014, and won the inaugural Big Air competition that same year, compete in the new Big Air event.
And we are likely to see Julia Marino, 19, a Westport, Ct. skateboarder who went to Stratton Mountain School compete in slopestyle. The men’s side is more hazy. “Louie Vito – who went to Stratton Mountain School as well as another SMS grad, Burton pro Danny Davis — could be in there,” Keene says “and yet another SMS grad, Alex Deibold is a strong bet for boardercross.”
While the team can bring up to 26 (with no more than 14 of each gender) to the Games, only four are allowed to compete in any one event. Sochi gold medalist Jamie Anderson and Chloe Kim have already earned enough top podium finishes to qualify, further narrowing the women’s field.
Kelly Clark, Dover, VT
With a gold medal in the 2002 Olympics, and a bronze in 2004 and again in 2010, Kelly Clark (along with Hannah Teter) is one of the winningest snowboarders in the sport;s history.
Clark grew up skiing with her family at Mount Snow, near their home in Dover, Vt. Though her parents were both avid skiers, Clark desperately wanted a snowboard. In 1990, at age 7, the first year Mount Snow was open to riders, she got a plastic snowboard from Walmart. Before even graduating from Mount Snow Academy, at age 16 she made the U.S. Team. Ten years later she became the first woman to land a 1080 in competition. She’s since been a long-time stalwart of the Burton pro team. At 34, this will be her fifth Olympics.
Clark has survived numerous injuries, including a fall at the 2015 X Games which tore her hamstring off the bone. Though she still limps, but she is a queen of pushing away pain. After surgery in 2016 that had her bedridden for a month with her feet bound together, Clark was back.
In early 2017, she won the halfpipe competition at the first Olympic qualifier, held last February at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., the ski town she now calls home. She then went on to win the World Cup test event in PyeongChang. At the next Olympic qualifier, December 2017’s Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Clark was second behind Chloe Kim, 17, and just ahead of Maddie Mastro, 17, two women exactly half her age, both of whom she has mentored.
A devout Christian, Clark set up the Kelly Clark Foundation to help other kids find success through snowboarding and provide scholarships to aspiring student athletes. Mastro is one of the young snowboarders she has helped. Kim has already won enough events to qualify for PyeonChang but Clark may find herself competing against Mastro and other for a spot.
As Clark writes in a prelude to her new book, Inspire:
“The greatest legacy I could leave would be to see my ceiling be the floor for the next generation. It is bigger than me, but it can start with me. In a performance-driven culture, it is difficult to find true meaning apart from success on the podium. I want people to see that success is an inside job.”
Hannah Teter, Belmont, VT
“Hannah has this devil-may-care attitude but she is one of the winningest snowboarders ever in the Olympics,” says Bud Keene, who coached her to a gold in 2006. Teter also has earned a silver in 2010 and just barely missed bronze in Sochi in 2014.
“She’s this hippy chic from Belmont who eats organic and non-GMO and does yoga in her yurt in Vermont when she’s home for the summer,” says Keene. “She may not do well all year long but when the time comes to do something big, when she drops in, she’s unflappable and nails it.”
In the first OIympic qualifying event last January in Mammoth, Teter earned a third (behind Clark but ahead of Chloe Kim). But at this past December’s World Cup at Copper, she finished ninth, followed by a fifth in the Superpipe in the Dew Tour a week later, behind Clark, Kim, Mastro and Arielle Gold.
Growing up in Belmont, Teter learned to ride at Okemo Mountain with her three brothers and went to the local Black River High School. Though Teter now lives near Lake Tahoe, she often comes home to Vermont in the summer and fall, where she’s produced maple syrup, Hannah’s Gold, which helped her raise $200,000 to help an impoverished village in Kenya. Her Sweet Cheeks Panties donate 40 percent of the profits to Children International.
Lindsey Jacobellis, Stratton, VT
In December, in Val Thorens, France Lindsey Jacobellis broke her own record by racking up her 29th World Cup win in boardercross. That podium finish also secured her a spot at PyeongChang and kept her at the top of the world rankings.
Not bad for a 32-year-old who has had two knee surgeries. Or for someone whom the public remembers best for losing the gold at the Torino Games when she was 20.
Jacobellis grew up driving from her home in Danbury, Ct. to Stratton Mountain every weekend and, after doing well in the Friday night race series, was recruited to Stratton Mountain School. She won the Junior Worlds in 2002 and her first X Games gold the next year.
Jacobellis’ style of riding is fast and smooth. It’s what allows her to shoot ahead in boardercross, where berms, 15-foot jumps and icy banked turns challenge the four riders who are all jockeying for the lead.
In Torino, Jacobellis had a huge lead and threw a stylish leap off the last jump—only to fall and be passed. She picked herself up and rode on for the silver.
In 2010, in the Vancouver games, Jacobellis collided with Canada’s Maelle Ricker, lost her balance, hit a gate and was disqualified. Ricker went on to win the gold.
Then, in 2012 at the X Games, Jacobellis tore her ACL and had the first of two surgeries. That might have been enough for someone else to throw in the towel. She didn’t, and by 2014 was back at the top of the game and qualified for Sochi. There, again she fell, missing the finals.
But with eight X Games gold medals and three FIS World Championship titles, what’s another Olympic medal have to do with it? For Jacobellis – a lot.
Ty Walker, Stowe, VT
At just 16, Stowe’s Ty Walker made her Olympic debut at Sochi in 2014 and just a year later won the first Big Air contest. Though she was slated to compete in Big Air Fenway in 2016, she was injured during a training run. Since then, Walker has been busy studying pre-med as a student at Brown and was recently named one of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Young Changemakers for 2018. In that role, she’ll serve as an ambassador at the U.S. Olympic Youth Games in Buenos Aires next summer.
Walker has taken time off from school to train. At the December Dew Tour she earned 9th in slopestyle, which is important since riders will compete in both slopestyle and Big Air. However, three other Americans stand above Walker in the rankings, including Jamie Anderson, Hailey Langland and Julia Marino.
Julia Marino, Stratton Mountain School
Julia Marino, now 20, didn’t pick up snowboarding until she was 13 when, on a trip to Colorado with her parents she broke a ski. A skateboarder from Westport, CT, she picked it up riding quickly. So quickly that after snowboarding at Stratton on weekends, she signed up for Stratton Mountain School and soon made the U.S. Snowboard Team. In 2016, when Ty Walker pulled out of Big Air Fenway after an injury, Marino was offered a spot last minute. She took it and won.
In last January’s first qualifier at Mammoth, Marino earned a bronze in slopestyle and at the Copper Mountain Big Air qualifier in December she earned silver and at the Dew Tour she placed sixth in slopestyle—the third American behind Jamie Anderson and Hailey Langland. Marino now spends most of her time out West training.
Alex Deibold, Stratton, VT
Alex Deibold also grew up commuting from Connecticut to Stratton on weekends to ski with his family. Deibold graduated from SMS in 2004 and ten years later, earned the bronze medal in Sochi in bordercross. He served as a ski wax technician in 2010 and shortly after made the team.
On December 22, 2017 in Cervinia, Italy, Deibold finished fourth in a World Cup boardercross, moving him to 18th in the world and the fifth-ranked American. If he had finished on the podium, his spot would have been secured. Even so, there is a good chance he will join Jonathan Cheever (a part-time plumber from Boston who learned to snowboard at Attitash, N.H.) on the team. However, to get there he will have to also beat three-time Olympian Nate Holland and two-time Olympian Nick Baumgartner as well as Hagen Kearney and Mick Dierdorff — both currently ranked higher in FIS points.