Big mountain camp aims to continue the development of strong, confident and competent female skiers
Alta Ski Area is proud to announce that we will be hosting Keely’s Ski Camp for Girls Big Mountain Camp on April 12 and 13, 2014. Offering unique, custom camps and a world-class, all female coaching staff, Keely’s Ski Camp For Girls is known as one of the best ski camps in the industry.
With registration now open and the dates for the Big Mountain Camp getting closer, we sat down for a little Q&A with Keely to gain some insight into how the camp got started and what makes it so unique.
How long was Keely’s Ski Camp for Girls in planning before you were able to make it a reality?
I retired from ski racing in 2010. After that season I went to coach ski racing on Mt. Hood during the summer. I coached upwards of 200 kids that summer and the entire time I was thinking, “Wow, there really are not enough female coaches.” That next winter I put the plans together to test out the idea of an all girls camp with incredible role models as coaches in the form of past and present Olympians, World Cup stars and U.S. ski teamers. The catch was that all of the coaches would be women, which had never been done before on Mt. Hood.
Was it one single thing that inspired you to create the camp? Or a combination/lifetime of skiing and being in the mountains?
I grew up in a pretty isolated canyon in Montana and my daily inspiration always came from the mountains. That inspiration led me to skiing and loving speed. Eventually, I started to race. I clearly remember watching Picabo Street win her first Olympic medal in the Lilihammer Olympics. Two things happened that day:
1. I renamed my pet bunny Picabo.
2. I made it my life goal to become a famous skier someday just like her.
I realize now the importance positive role models played in my life and how they inspired me and helped me reach my goals. What I hope to do is show these girls that we [the coaches] were in the same spot as them at one point and we’re going to make them believe in themselves and their potential.
Did you find it easy to transition from skier to coach?
Yes. In some ways. It was really hard to transition out of ski racing because I had been doing it for 22 years. But honestly, I found a new love for skiing after I stopped racing. Teaching kids how to ski has been really rewarding and has challenged me as a skier as well. I think from doing so many drills with young skiers, I am better at one-ski skiing than I ever was while I was racing.
If I were to give any professional athlete advice it would be to coach their sport. Figure it out. Find the art and science behind it. Whether it is coaching ski racing and big mountain skiing, like I do, or park and pipe, you learn incredible things about your sport by teaching it to others. Plus, you improve too!
As the founder, what is the best part of these camps for you?
I always joke that mentally I am 12 years old so working with kids comes pretty naturally. And I get the chance to work with my best friends in skiing and motivate the next generation of girls to ski hard, attain their goals and have a blast doing it.
What is the one thing you want girls to take away from your camp?
Fun, confidence, friendships, mentors and of course improved skills on the slopes. But much more than that . . . I was in the gym the other day doing a “Lean Legs and Abs” class and the whole time the instructor was telling us, “Add another rep. Don’t you want to look good in that new dress (insert sassy tone)?” In the middle of the class I was thinking, “I am not doing another rep to fit into some stupid dress. I’m doing another rep to be able to ski harder.”
My point is that I want girls to notice not how their bodies look but what their bodies can do. You can’t pull off a turn going 80 mph on ice, climb a mountain, or ski an extreme line without a strong body. Be proud and confident of what you can do with it and keep that with you for life. I think this mentality is a much healthier approach.
As Keely’s Ski Camp for Girls gains momentum and continues to grow, where do you see it going in the future?
To answer this question I have to always tap into my inner 12 year old girl. “What would she have wanted in a ski camp like this? What is best for young girls? Who should coach their ski camps? Are they positive role models in the community?” Answering questions like these always helps me move forward and motivates me to create the best possible ski camp I can for girls.
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