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Chris Klug

The Business Of Boarding, First Olympic Transplantee, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Related Biography: Engineer Charles PoppenCONTACT INFORMATION


American snowboarder

Extreme athletes like snowboard slalom champion Chris Klug brought a new look and a new rhythm to the Olympics with the introduction of (e)Xtreme sports at Nagano, Japan, in 1998. Without altering the Olympic ideals, the personas of the heroes of the Games were redefined. For Klug, who took the Olympic bronze in 2002, the win was an anticlimax to a life-saving surgery that preceded the Olympic competition by six months.

Chris Klug

By the time he arrived at the competition in Salt Lake City, he was no stranger to victory, having scored and survived a liver transplant in July of 2002.

Born on November 18, 1972 in Vail, Colorado, the son of Kathy and Warren Klug, Chris Klug has an older brother, Jim, a younger sister, Hillary, and a foster brother, Jason. With the a backdrop of Vail in his early life it is easily understood how he evolved into an Olympic snowboarding medallist.

At age two, according to Klug, he toyed with his first downhill sport by taking to the slopes and learning to ski. The family relocated to Bend, Oregon, in 1976, where his father bought a hotel called the Inn of the Seventh Mountain, located at the foot of Mt. Bachelor. Bend, at the base of the Cascade Mountains is located at an altitude of 3,628 feet and is conducive to developing a proficiency in winter sports. Mt. Bachelor is a snow-board heaven, with many popular snowboard competitions and training grounds available in the region, so the move changed little for Klug and his love affair with winter sports.

Klug received his first snowboard at age eleven, and according to his own recollection he spent long hours building his skill on Mt. Bachelor. He entered amateur competitions at the junior level, and won the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom three times as a junior amateur. He won his first tour victory in 1988 as a sophomore in high school and went on to win back-to-back overall championships in the North West Race Series.

As Klug continued to grow, he attained an adult height of 6-feet-3-inches and a comfortable body weight of 210 pounds. An all-state quarterback at Mountain View high school, he faced a moment of truth when confronted by recruiters from Oregon State University—and other schools—with offers of football scholarships. Klug weighed his options and elected to forego college in favor of a career as a professional snowboarder. He entered competitions and won the overall National Amateur Championship Slalom in 1989. In 1991 he tied into the professional circuit, racing in over two dozen events as a rookie.

After undergoing bone surgery to his ankle in 1995, he missed the entire winter sport season that year. The surgery, to repair an errant bone beneath his Achilles tendon, was a precarious operation for an athlete. Hoping against the odds for a complete recovery, he remained active and attended classes at Aspen's Colorado Mountain College with an eye on a career in international snowboarding promotions. He applied and was accepted to Middlebury College in Vermont, but never acted on the acceptance. After winning the 1997 U.S. Open Slalom, he distinguished himself in 1998 as the first-ranked qualifier for the first-ever U.S. Olympic snow-boarding team headed for the winter games in Nagano.


Address: c/o Burton/Klug Aspen Snowboard Camp, Buttermilk Mountain, Aspen, Colorado. Email: chris@chrisklug.com. Online: www.chrisklug.com/.



People (December 3, 2001): 141.

Sports Illustrated (February 4, 2002: 148; February 14, 2002: 10).

Sunday Patriot-News (February 8, 1998): A1.

USA Today (February 3, 1998): 6C; February 15, 2002, p. 10D; February 16, 2002 (bonus section).

Sketch by G. Cooksey

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsExtreme Sports