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x-games

David Wise stood on deck at the top of the superpipe in Aspen, Colo. Before him stretched the perfectly groomed ice and snow tube carved 567 feet long into the mountainside. As he mentally prepared, Wise watched competitor Justin Dorey smash into the lip in what ESPN called “one of the gnarliest crashes in years.” (Thankfully, Dorey walked away with only an injured shoulder.) It wasn’t the kind of precursor you want before beginning your own high-speed attempt at defying gravity in a giant geographic playground...

Kelly Clark sat alone in a Utah hotel room, writing in her journal. It was another contest beginning another season: 2004, two years past the pinnacle of her stellar career when she became the first American female to win an Olympic snowboarding gold medal. That same year, 2002, she also won every other event, including the Winter X Games, and attained all her professional goals—at age 18. Clark was the queen of snowboarding and had everything: fame, money, travel, the ability to dictate her career. It was incredible—for a little while...

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