Excited that it's finally here

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There was no better place than last week’s X Games for Kelly Clark to test out her runs for Sochi after winning her fourth straight halfpipe gold.

It’s time! I’m just getting my life wrapped up before I leave for Sochi in the morning. It snowed about a foot here today so I’ve been shoveling, packing and mailing checks -- you know, basic life stuff!

The X Games went really well for me last week -- the perfect sendoff for Sochi. In an Olympic season you just kind of use them as practice. We have had a few contests recently with only U.S. riders, so it was good to get into an international field.

Mostly I rested a lot, though. X Games included I had four finals in two weeks so the focus was on being rested more than doing as much as possible. I was really happy to come out for our one daytime practice to work on my Cab 9’s and Cab 10’s though.

My goal was to land a first run that would be good enough for the win, and then use the second and third runs to try new tricks, and that’s just what I did. I didn’t hit my Cab 10 in the end, but my first run was still enough to take my fourth straight X Games gold.

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Clark feels bittersweet that longtime teammate and friend Gretchen Bleiler announced her retirement last week.

Really my plan for the Olympics isn’t any different than it was for the X Games. I want to go out there and put down a perfect first run, a good run that’s within my ability level and that I know I can do. Then after that I’ll think about opening it up in the second run to progress my riding. If everything goes well and I make finals I’ll try the Cab 10 on my last run for sure.

It was definitely bittersweet to see my longtime teammate and friend Gretchen Bleiler do her final run and announce her retirement at the X Games. Gretchen and I have been traveling and competing together for 15 years--my entire career. My first trip on the U.S. snowboard team was her first trip on the U.S. snowboard team. And it’s amazing what Gretchen has done for the sport. I’ve probably been more influenced by Gretchen as a snowboarder than anyone, and she’ll be missed.

I was psyched to see her land a front 9 in her final run. After her injury, seeing her come back like that was a big moment. I was strapped in for my final run and I looked over at my coach and said, “Man, I’m going to miss this.” I tried not to get emotional since I still had one more run to do!

But now it’s time to look forward and I’m so excited that what we’ve looked forward to for so long is finally here. I’m excited to get on the plane and start the journey. You train, you prepare, you take all these necessary steps and do all the qualifiers. You work out in the gym for years and years and for me it’s just exciting that it’s finally here! It’s such an amazing opportunity and a privilege to represent our country. It’s going to be sad without Gretchen there, but that’s okay. It’s a different season, and a different time.

I’ve found the best thing in going into the Olympics is not to have high expectations of what it should be or what it could be. It’s much better to go in looking to make the most out of it rather than expecting it to be something. The last thing you want is to be let down. After all, it’s a snowboard contest. Things are changing all the time.

I never thought I’d have the opportunity to go to four Olympic Games. Who gets to do that? For me it’s really the icing on the cake. But all that being said, I feel more prepared than I ever have going into an Olympic Games. I’m looking forward to it more than I ever have, and my snowboarding is better than it ever has been.

Success really comes down to me being faithful to the opportunity. I can truly look back at this point in time and say I have done everything I could have done. Now it comes down to do I have what it takes. I’m ready.