Kelly Clark is known as the greatest snowboarder in history, but the athlete — who is currently competing in her fifth Olympic games — is also a Christian who discovered God in 2004 while on a quest to find her purpose.
For years, Clark has competed with a truly amazing message on the top of her snowboard: “Jesus, I cannot hide my love.” It’s a bold proclamation that everyone can see as she makes her way down snowy hillsides.
But it’s the story behind her faith that is truly amazing, as Clark found herself faced with an important question after winning a gold medal at the Olympics in Salt Lake City back in 2002: “Now what?”
The answer to that simple question led her on a transformative journey, with the athlete telling the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a Christian organization, that she found Jesus in a truly intriguing way.
Clark said she was feeling disconnected after her initial victories; despite finding success, she didn’t know her identity,.
But when she arrived in Park City to compete after the Olympics, she saw something that led her to start asking some important spiritual questions. A fellow competitor stumbled, fell and failed to qualify; that woman was understandably upset. But Clark overheard another snowboarder console her and say, “It’s all right. God still loves you. You don’t need to cry.”
It was that kind exchange that got Clark thinking deeper about faith, so much so that she headed back to her hotel room and cracked open the Bible that she knew she would find in the drawer.
“I was like, ‘Uh, I don’t even know how to read this,” Clark recalled, explaining that she then went to the room of the woman who had fallen and knocked on the door. “I think you might be a Christian,” she told her. “And I think you need to tell me about God.”
It was a moment that changed everything, with the snowboarder later accepting Jesus back in 2004.
That acceptance came after much exploration, reading and contemplation, with Clark finding herself wondering whether she could continue living as though God didn’t exist. The answer was a resounding “no.”
“He was very real, very present in my life,” she told the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “I gave my heart to the Lord that day.”
In the end, the snowboarder — who continues to be outspoken about her faith — said that her life and identity transformed, and that those around her noticed the incredible changes.
“They knew how much I partied, what kind of lifestyle I had, and how emotionally volatile I was,” she said. “After time, by watching me, they were able to come to the conclusion that, ‘Wow, this is a really, really great thing for Kelly.'”
Read more about Kelly’s story here.