Though the Vermont ski team finished sixth overall at the 2011 NCAA Ski Championships, first year Tim Kelley went back to Burlington with the national title in the slalom.
The championships were hosted by the Catamounts at Stowe Mountain Resort and Trapp Family Lodge. Kelley was able to capture the title in his NCAA debut.
The Vermont native comes from a family of skiers, with two siblings on the U.S. Ski Team and a mother who was also a member of the U.S. Ski Team. One of
Kelley’s brothers, Robby Kelley, is also a UVM sophomore and on the Vermont ski team.
Diana Giunta: How does it feel to be the 2011 national champion in the slalom?
Tim Kelley: It is a great feeling to be the 2011 national slalom champion. It is the biggest race of the college season — something I worked for all year — and it feels amazing to win it.
DG: It must have been amazing to get a result like this in your NCAA debut. How has this added to the experience?
TK: Yeah, it was nice. I didn’t really know what to expect, as far as how nervous I would be or what my mindset would be. I was pretty nervous but in a good way.
DG: What do you like about the slalom?
TK: I like slalom because it is so quick and athletic. Slalom on good snow in my opinion is the most fun you can have on skis.
DG: Can you talk a little bit about the regular season? How did those earlier races prepare you for the NCAA championship?
TK: College racing is different from individual racing because you have a team.
It adds more pressure because you don’t want to let down the team. Dealing with that added pressure all year helped me become a more consistent, solid skier.
DG: What was your first year on the ski team like? How does the team maintain unity when the events are often individual?
TK: I had a great time on the ski team this year. It’s full of amazing kids. I got to train and race with my brother for the first time in a while, which was amazing. Skiing as an individual sport is tough — there can only be one winner — but in college your team can work together to win the event.
It was a nice change. For example, if I individually had a bad weekend, my teammates always did well, so it still felt like a good weekend.
DG: You come from a family who is very involved in skiing. What is it like to have so many family members who share this interest with you?
TK: Having my family share my passion of skiing is great. My mom is still the best coach I have ever had. Being around people who love the sport and have so much knowledge about it is really great.
DG: Did you always know that you wanted to ski, as your family members did, or did it take a while before you realized that it was something you wanted to do?
TK: My grandparents built Cochran’s ski area in Richmond — just a little ski area in their backyard. I skied there basically from the time I could walk, and it was always so much fun that I never wanted to do anything else.
DG: As a Vermont native with parents who were UVM graduates, did you ever see yourself going to school outside of Vermont? What did you admire about UVM?
TK: Once I realized what college was, in about third grade, I knew I wanted to come to UVM. It’s such a great school with an amazing campus. Burlington is a great city.
DG: What are some goals that you have for the rest of your time at UVM?
TK: My goals are to graduate, of course! And also continue to improve my skiing and hopefully make it back to the U.S. Ski Team.