Shady Side Academy junior Clark shines as ski racer
While many people are complaining about the weather, Courtney Clark, a junior at Shady Side Academy, has been embracing the wintry blasts of snow.
It has given her an opportunity to strut her stuff on the slopes. She is a ski racer who competes for the Western Pennsylvania Race Club based out of Seven Springs.
She runs U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) sanctioned races and made it to the Junior Olympics in Sugarloaf, Maine last year. She is on track to do it again this season.
Clark, who was a striker on the SSA soccer team that won the WPIAL Class AA championship last fall, has had skiing in her blood for quite a while.
“I started skiing when I was 3 years old, and I joined my first ski team when I was in the third grade,” she said.
She competes in the slalom and the giant slalom and has been following the 2014 Winter Olympics intently.
“I've been watching Mikaela Shiffrin from the USA team,” Clark said.
Last week, Shiffrin became the youngest person in 39 years to win a slalom title at the Winter Olympics.
“She's only 17 years old, and it's amazing how talented she is,” Clark said. “I wish I could be that good.”
Clark, ranked seventh in the state in ski racing in the U18 and U21 competition, has done her share of winning on a smaller scale than the Olympics, but her resume nonetheless is impressive.
Two weekends ago, she took first place in the Critchfield Construction Grand Slalom at Seven Springs, a regional race for the Western Pennsylvania division. The weekend before that, she competed in the Pennsylvania State Cup series at Blue Mountain against racers from across the state.
She took third place in the slalom and second place in the grand slalom.
She also claimed first-place trophies in the Phillip Depre Slalom at Seven Springs on Jan. 25 and the Lars Skylling Classic on Jan. 18.
Her next challenge will be this weekend at Elk Mountain in the Poconos.
“There will be three more races to decide the PA Cup, and I'm looking forward to the competition,” she said.
When the skiing season is done, Clark will be adding another sport to her repertoire. She plans to try out for the SSA track team in the spring.
“I've never tried track before, but I'd like to take a shot at running the 200 and 400. The cross training involved with being on the soccer team and skiing has been beneficial to me in both sports, and I believe that running track will also be an asset when soccer season begins,” Clark said.
Clark has a 4.0 GPA. She hasn't decided on a college yet.
“I'm leaning towards an Ivy League School, and I'm thinking about neurobiology as a major,” she said. “I'd like to continue playing soccer and skiing in college, but I'm not sure if I would be able to juggle academics and two sports.”
Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-782-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.