Keely Kelleher Interview and her new “Girl on Fire” Contest

Growing up in Montana ski racing there wasn’t a ton of competition. Therefore when the race was over two things were important. Check to see if Keely Kelleher beat me and then go freeskiing. I’m pretty sure Keely had the same plan. Only she wanted to beat the boys, both in the race and in whatever ski shenanigans we could find afterwards, going bigger off the jump, faster through the trees. It was this drive to ski anything anytime and her competitive nature that put her on the US Ski Team for seven years. A Frustrating battle with injury forced Keely to retire from racing but not from skiing. She has since stared in Warren Miller and Sweetgrass Productions Movies as well as started a camp for girls bearing her name. I managed to get some time from her busy schedule at school to learn more about what she’s been up to and the “Girl On Fire” competition. -KT

Bomb Snow- How has growing up in Montana influenced the way you ski? Racing and Freeskiing? Keely Kelleher- It influenced everything. I was fortunate enough to follow around Kyle Taylor, Krog Kempt, Jeremy Ulend, etc.. in our racing division. I remember when (coach) Krog pulled me out of freshman geometry at Bozeman High because it snowed three feet! Of course we were racers, but I know the reason I love skiing today as much as I did then was because of the people I grew up with.

BS- What has it been like transitioning from racing World Cups to Filming? Are there similarities/differences? KK- I think the biggest difference is going from “Oh I don’t care how that turn looked as long as it was fast, “ to “I want to make this line look aesthetic or intense.” In racing I never once thought about how anything looked. A lot of times in filming emphasis is put on making turns look picturesque and/or aggressive, all depending on what you are shooting. Filming is great because it makes you look at your skiing more creatively.

BS- You are in “Valhalla” the new Sweetgrass film. Do you have an experience/story that stands out from filming with them? Did you get naked? Ski in the dark? Shoot fireworks? KK- It was 4 in the morning, complete whiteout conditions, (literally you couldn’t see the skin track in front of you), and Eliel Hindert and I were sharing the load of a fifty pound generator back to our hut. A lot of the filming I did with Sweetgrass opened my eyes to a whole new level of insanity, creativity, and self exploration in the sport of skiing than I’d ever been exposed to. And I mean this in the most endearing way possible, those guys are incredibly passionate about what they do and it shows. P.S. I didn’t ski naked but I did ski with roman candles blasting off from my mits.

“A lot of the filming I did with Sweetgrass opened my eyes to a whole new level of insanity, creativity, and self exploration in the sport of skiing than I’d ever been exposed to. And I mean this in the most endearing way possible, those guys are incredibly passionate about what they do and it shows.”

BS- What was it like to have the Warren Miller crew at your home in Big Sky filming an all girl segment for this year’s film “Ticket to Ride”?
KK- Crystal and Elyse are badass women! I learned so much from them and valued their help when I would faceplant skinning up steep switchbacks trying to perfect my ‘kick turn.’ I really need to work on those kick turns haha! Skiing in Montana for the segment made it that much better and it had its perks! I convinced the crew to pull my dad’s beater truck and our dog Emma into the movie. I’ve been driving that POS all over the Gallatin Valley since I was sixteen! I was so pumped when Chris Patterson gave the truck the thumbs up. I cannot wait to watch the movie with my dad.

BS- Why do you think your camps have become a success? What is the one thing that you hope the girls take away from camp?
KK- My camps are a success because of the incredible women I hire as coaches. I know without them the camp would never have taken off. I am a very lucky lady to have them working with me to inspire these girls. -Jeez Kyle, these are tough questions. One thing! there are so many things I want them to take away! But honestly when it comes down to it, I want them to come away from the camp smiling. When I get a phone call from a parent telling me that their daughter couldn’t stop talking about how much fun they had, how many friends they made, and how SICK the skiing was, then we as coaches have done our job.

BS- Growing up who did you look up to for inspiration?
KK- Craig (Krog) Kempt (besides my parents amazing support, Krog was the coach who instilled the love of skiing in me), Daron Rahlves, and my sister.

BS- What is the Girl on Fire contest?
KK- The Girl on Fire contest is an opportunity for Junior Female Skiers in the race and freeski worlds to get sponsored for a year by showing us what the’ve got, both academically and athletically! I collaborated with camp sponsor Tecnica Blizzard to give one ski racer and one big mountain skier two pairs of Blizzard skis and a pair of Tecnica boots. In addition the two girls who win also get a spot in the race and/or big mountain camp.
I understand that skiing is an expensive sport, and I want to make sure that deserving athletes have the opportunity to realize their goals. Plus, I think it’s important to show the skiing world that the camp is not just targeting racers. I want all girls who love to ski to get involved.

Submissions must be in by November 1st, 2013 so make sure to go to the link below and sign up today! Go here for more info:!/about

BS- What are your plans for this season?
KK- I will be done with school! I plan on opening up more ski camps and skiing my legs off!

BS- Any chance we will see you up in Montana for some skiing with the Bomb Snow Crew?
KK- Yes! I’m planning on it! I hope I can still keep up with you Kyle!

BS- Shout Outs? Thank You?
KK- Thank you to my family, my Montana friends and family (Montanans rock!), and the Bomb Snow Crew for sharing this!

- Make sure to check out Keely this Wednesday the 16th of October when Sweetgrass’s new film, Valhalla comes to the Emerson Center for the Arts in Bozeman.

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