WPST Robby Kelley Interview
by Craig Marshall
At the 2017 Schladming World Cup Slalom, Robby Kelley skied well enough to qualify for the second run in 26th place, a huge accomplishment he achieved for the fourth time in his career. Looking back on the race, he said, “Schladming is such a cool race, there are more fans there watching first run inspection than there are at most other races. I was definitely happy to qualify for a second run to get to ski in front of that massive crowd again.” But as he approached the finish a small mistake vaulted him into the air and he slid past multiple gates on his hip towards the finish. Normally on the World Cup you’d see athletes give up and head for the lodge; but Robby decided to hike and finish the race. “When I got up and started hiking I was expecting everyone to be annoyed because that’s what happens when I’ve hiked at every other level, but this time the crowd went wild. It was really cool to have 50,000 people screaming for me and definitely a memory I’ll never forget.”
The video clip went viral and Robby became a star on media outlets like BBC and NPR. The story is a microcosm for his entire career; always balancing tremendous success with setbacks that provide him with the experience to ski faster. He’s competed for UVM and the US Ski Team but he has chosen to race independently with Redneck Racing, a team founded by Robby, his brother Tim Kelley, and friends Andrew McNealus, and Tucker Marshall. Some athletes would struggle with the adversity of changing teams so many times, but Robby has a different attitude, “I’m now at a point where I’m fully in charge of my own program and have a bunch of different experiences to know what works for me and what doesn’t. It has definitely been a huge learning experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Kelley has taken advantage of this variety of different approaches to become the third-ranked American slalom skier (38th in the world) going into the Olympic season. He has a good chance to qualify for South Korea but his sights don’t stop there, “Obviously it would be a huge honor to represent the US at the Olympics, but I don’t want to go just to go. I want to work hard and keep improving and be a real podium threat on the World Cup. If I can be at that level when the Olympics come around then that would be awesome.” Root for Robby this season on the World Cup and the World Pro Ski Tour! And check him out on Facebook and Instagram for entertaining content all year round!