ERA note: We have known Keely Kelleher since she was seven or eight years old.  She and her sister, Brenna, came out from Montana and spent a week kayaking with us. After their week here, they sent a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about how beautiful western North Carolina was, but how sad it was that people left trash alongside the rivers. That was an impressive letter from two young ladies! Keely and her sister Brenna went on to be awesome kayakers…Brenna kayaking around the world with Adventurequest, and Keely focusing on water–but of the frozen type! After years of commitment Keely joined the US Women’s Olympic Ski Team. We caught Keely having just returned from training in Austria and asked her to reflect on how kayaking influenced her path to the olympics….

Keely Kelleher Reflecting on Kayaking
Kayaking has always been an amazing cross training tool for me. I learned when I was seven and have kept it in my training regime ever since.

I find kayaking very similar to ski racing in many ways. For example, in kayaking before a big rapid you inspect the line and visualize where you want to be in the rapid. This is the same for ski racing; I inspect the line in the course and commit to it. If you get off line in either sport there are harsh consequences: getting munched in a hole or flying into a fence at 80mph. The similarities are endless between the two sports.

Kayaking has taught me to control my fear and nerves. Most of the time when I am in the start gate of a gnarly downhill course I will think back on a much scarier rapid I conquered and that puts me in the “go for it, fearless” attitude.

Most importantly though, kayaking is all about fun and so is skiing. Being on the river and “going with the flow” of the water clears my mind. Whenever I am nervous for a big race I think of kayaking and going with the flow and it calms me down and prepares me to ski fast.