Kelly Clark has had a heck of a winter. After a crash at the X Games in Norway, she went on to compete at the Burton US Open with a hip injury and a hamstring that was detached from the bone. Despite all odds, she landed third place in the Women’s Halfpipe Finals. Then it was time to heal: This meant hip surgery, intense physical therapy, and a six-month recovery period.
In her 17 years of competitive snowboarding, Kelly says this is her first major injury, and the one that’s impacted her lifestyle and schedule the most. But, as they say, all clouds have a silver lining. This unexpected pause in her busy schedule became a perfect time to raise the puppy that she’s always wanted.
We had a chance to talk to Kelly about her recovery and her new pup, Iris.
So, Iris. How old is she?
Iris is the best. She's just about four months old. She might get her own Instagram account soon, she’s in high demand.
Having the right mentality is a huge part of your career, and you’re going through this challenge that you knew wouldn’t be easy. How did you prepare for that?
My family bred golden retrievers growing up and I’ve wanted to get a dog for like 10 years, but my schedule hasn’t facilitated it.
A few years ago, I moved up to Sacramento and my housing situation up there is much better suited for a pup, as far as having a roommate and a fenced in yard, and things like that. I just thought “Oh, I’m getting to a point in life where I could actually make this happen.” After everything with my hip, I thought, “Now I actually can!” I’m off snow for five to six months and won’t be traveling until next winter. All of a sudden, I had this block of time at home that I’ve never had before.
It was just really good timing for me. I have a busy schedule, but getting a dog wasn’t just about my schedule.
It was about how much quality time I could spend with her while she’s really growing up and developing. I knew I had seven months to train her, help her grow up, and enjoy that time while setting her up to be an enjoyable, fun dog. In tandem with my physical therapy, it’s been fun to have her. When I got her, she was almost 10 weeks old and I was just barely walking competently. As soon as I could walk, the breeder said I could come get her. She’s been a nice addition to a season that could have been very tedious and long. She’s made it very enjoyable. Plus, she is cayuuuute.
"All of a sudden, I had this block of time at home that I’ve never had before."
Where does she sleep?
I crate-trained her, so she sleeps in a crate next to my bed. She’s good, she sleeps from like 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. She’s a happy dog. She takes naps during the day and she’s getting pretty good at solo missions. She’s fully potty-trained and really smart. We’re in a puppy training class where we work on learning more and more.
What’s her best trick right now?
Name recognition and coming when called. It’s super important. Right now, she’s getting pretty good at waiting for her food bowl. She has to sit 10 feet away until we give her a release cue to eat her food.
She’s also learning to swim. I can’t stand on paddle boards yet, but I can lay on them. She comes out on the river, wearing her doggie lifejacket, and goes paddle boarding. She’s sweet, cuddly, smart, and really, really fun. ∆
Editor's note: Keep an eye out for the full story of Kelly Clark's recovery, coming soon to the Burton Blog.