U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Systems & Operations Calum Clark has run major snow sports competitions in the U.S. since '04, a job that demands precision and efficiency amid often-difficult mountain weather. His last day was yesterday, the conclusion of what he considered his toughest challenge yet: the FIS Freestyle/Snowboard/Freeski World Championships in Park City. Next, Clark joins the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, where he hopes to work on another Winter Olympics eventually. An Australian, Clark has been in the Olympic sports business since he worked for the '00 Sydney Games. He spoke to the THE DAILY from the base of the snowboard halfpipe Saturday.
Q: How has the scene changed since '04?
Clark: In this scene (snowboard & free ski) in particular, there are massively more sports. When I was involved in the first Olympic qualifiers in '06, it was just snowboard halfpipe. Now we’re running snowboard halfpipe, slope style, big air, and now we’re going to ski big air, so I think that’s the biggest thing.
Q: What was your hardest event?
Clark: The '19 World Championships. This is the most complex. The other ones on top of my mind is Fenway Big Air -- that was a gargantuan undertaking, and in my mind a stunning success. The other ones that are difficult are not the big events with the resources, but the ones you know you have to do, but you don’t have a heck of a lot of resources, like the Continental Cup, or the Nor Am speed finals ... there’s not a lot of budget or volunteers and everyone’s doing five jobs.
Q: Is the growth too much, do you worry about gigantism? Snow sports are now half the Olympics.
Clark: It’s what the market can bear, right? Right now, in the world of sports, there seems to be enough appetite. What I love about these sports (freeski/snowboard/freestyle) is that it does have a bigger worldwide footprint. Alpine skiing is a massive sport that commands a lot of media attention, but it has a very central European footprint and North American footprint. At this event, you look at this podium, you’ve got Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Americans and Swiss all over the place, so the market seems to be holding up.
Q: So, what’s your next job?
Clark: I’m going to be the COO for the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, the foundation left behind after the '02 Olympics. They had a $72M endowment to operate the venues, and I have been longtime friends with the CEO (Colin Hilton). He’s an incredible mentor, and I think he’s redefined what the Olympic legacy means. He says it’s not about managing facilities, it’s about providing opportunities to youth. ... When it comes to an Olympic bid, the organization will be involved, I don’t know how exactly, but I get the feeling we’ll be close to the center of the storm when it comes. I hope so. I’ve still got a mile of passion for these winter Olympic sports.