InterviewsNewsKelly Milligan

FasterSkier FasterSkierAugust 17, 2003

Kelly Milligan is a former US Ski Team member, who is still very fast. She may be a master skier now, but she is still a threat to win any race she enters.

The vitals:

I am 42, 5 feet 6 inches, 125 lbs married with one 8 year old daughter named
Katie. I live in Park City now but have always considered Grand Teton and Jackson
Hole my hometown or where I am from. I am a veterinarian and for the most part
I coach myself but have gotten help from people like Torbjorn and John Aalberg
on both waxing and technique.

Sponsors?
I am not sponsored and frankly am amused that no ski company has ever approached
me and asked if I would like to use their product. It is partly my fault because
I have never asked. I am torn about wanting a sponsor, I like not having to
answer to anyone but miss the moral support having a sponsor would provide.
I am lucky in that both myself and my husband David are gainfully employed and
thus can afford to race without any sponsorship. I do wonder if the sponsored
skiers are getting faster skis then me, it is always a good excuse if they beat
me.

Favorite books:
I am a Lord of the Rings aficionado and by spin off I like many other fantasy
novels and a few science fiction. Dick Francis is a great British mystery writer
and I have now read all of his books and was most distressed to see he quit
writing. I also like Tony Hillerman but his recent novels haven't been quite
so tightly constructed as his earlier novels. AND I admit it for pure escape
I love a good romance novel and trust me there is a huge difference between
the good ones and the bad ones, I've read a lot of them. Traveling as much as
I have over the years books have kept me sane.

Favorite movies:
I am very fond of the British comedies that have been produced lately. There
is something about the off humor of the Brits that I find very appealing. With
all that is going on in my life now the only movies I can count on seeing are
the latest Disney ones since my daughter demands it. Luckily she has become
a Lord of the Rings fan so I have been able to see those at least. The first
one was great but I feel they strayed too far from the book in the second one.
Faramir would never have taken Frodo to Gondor!!

Favorite TV:
I don't watch t.v. much except for special sport moments and I like The Antiques
Road Show and pbs has some good mystery shows. My kid monopolizes the t.v. and
luckily she only knows about the kids pbs stations so we haven't been inundated
with commercials.

Favorite food:
I would have to say nuts are my favorite food especially if they are accompanied
by chocolate. But a good piece of red meat has to rank right up there, I am
a carnivore.

Favorite music:
I love folk music. If you can't sing to it or clap your hands to it then most
music eventually annoys me. Peter, Paul, and Mary will always be my favorite.
They are timeless and their harmony still sends shivers up my back.

Did you take a vacation after this past race season ended?
The family went to Hawaii for spring break this year. In large part the trip
was motivated by the fact that with my recent injuries I was unable to compete
at the level I wanted to this winter and that was seriously depressing. I live
to compete and the fiercer the competition the better. Hawaii was fun, definitely
not in Utah anymore. Katie liked it so much that she informed us she was going
to move there when she grew up and then proceeded to cry and informed us she
would really miss us when she moved there. I told her not to worry I would visit
just not during ski season.

Where is your favorite place to ski,race & train?
I was born and raised in Grand Teton and it will always be my favorite place
in the world. Training there was perfect for me. Cool summers and endless trails
with, as much vertical and I could ever want to run. Roller skiing and biking
were just ways to recover from my long trail runs. Trail creek on teton pass
will always be my favorite place to ski, the terrain is moderate and the nostalgia
is so high I always feel like I am flying and 18 years old again. For racing
I need a lot of hills and very little flat to compliment my style of skiing.
Lake Placid, Soldier Hollow are places I like to race and ski well at.

Why do you enjoy being a ski racer?
If I did not have to travel or could recruit Scotty to beam me to races
I would race a lot more. I hate to travel. I got so burned out on it during
my US Ski team years and the traveling I've done recently to races remind me
of how much I hate it. As I said before I am very competitive and the thrill
I get from competing drives my training and to some extent my life. Being injured
last year and not being able to race much really affected my state of well-being.
I was quite depressed and even harder to live with then usual. Ski racing and
I have been a good match. I started young and had an obvious talent and thus
I got instant positive reinforcement that just made it more fun and made me
want to train harder and compete more. In a large part this still drives me.
I still do well and doing well makes me want to do more. I’m sure that
kind of cycle is why competition is so appealing to me.

If you weren't a ski racer, what would you be doing?
I am an athlete before anything else. So if I wasn’t ski racing I would
be doing some other form of training, competing. I love to run, play volleyball,
tennis, bike, etc. Being a veterinarian is the job I do to make a living so
I can ski race and do my other activities.

I have often said that if I had been 6 inches taller and could jump I probably
never would have pursued a skiing career because I love volleyball so much.
I played through high school and college. I chose my college based on volleyball
not skiing. I looked at the colleges that offered me a ski scholarship and chose
the one with the weakest volleyball team because I knew that at 5'6" tall
and no jump I wasn't going to have much playing time at any of the big time
universities with ski and volleyball programs. I chose The University of New
Hampshire because I knew I was good enough to start on their varsity volleyball
team my freshman year.

What do you do to pass the time when you are on the road at races and training
camps?

I refuse to go on the road for training camps anymore. They were mind numbing
to me as a young racer and terrifying to me now as a middle aged, set in my
way, mother. When I have to travel to race I read, a lot.

What were your best and worst races last season?
I really didn’t race much last season. I have a hamstring and a shoulder
that I babied all year. I had such a good 2002 season that it was very hard
to sit at home and look at the results from races I had done the year before.
In 2002 the BMT was great. I finished 3rd but the most memorable part was finally
skiing with the top group and enjoying it. I have never hung on like that before.
I also had a great day at the 30k classic at US Natl. in Bozeman. I went out
way too slow and by the time I realized I had way to much energy left it was
too late, the race was over. It is a rare day to feel so strong.

How do you deal with bad races?
Bad races just become part of the lore, you know sitting around talking with
friends about the horror of a certain event. There is always a reason why a
race goes bad and if you can figure out that reason you may be lucky enough
to not have to repeat it. All races give you experience and there is something
gained even from a bad race. I say having a bad race and facing it honestly
must be good for your character!!!

What are your racing goals for the upcoming season?
My race goals are always huge in the summer and then as reality and traveling
approach they get trimmed down. I would like to do the Soldier Hollow Nor-Ams,
US Nationals, and World Master’s in Norway. If I can get my shoulder happy
I will probably do the BMT and the Rendezvous again this year as well. Of course
barring no snow I will also be in West Yellowstone at Thanksgiving, talk about
nostalgia my first camp there was in l979. Now it is not a camp but a family
vacation.

Can you tell a bit about your training philosophy?
My training is always geared around two main workouts a week, one long run of
2 hours or more, one pace or interval work out usually running in the summer
with the pace being a road race. I am still shooting for pr’s in running
even at my age. During my young days I did very little speed running and by
body was not built like it is today so running is truly a kick and it is a high
for me to improve my road times. As fall approaches I will do roller ski intervals
instead of running. I do easy runs and roller skis to fill in the days between
the hard workouts. I also usually take two days off a week, I can’t do
7 work outs a week anymore. I also say I am going to lift weights again this
fall, but I’ll probably use my shoulder as an excuse to stay out of the
gym. I hate strength workouts.

What changes will you be making to your training plan from last year?

What workouts last year? last year was a no year and I am pretending it didn’t
happen, so humor me.

What is your favorite workout?
My favorite workout is a 4 to 6 hour run hike in the tetons. Two of my favorites
are running from the Tram at Jackson Hole Ski Area to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton
and the Paintbrush Divide loop in Grand Teton.

If you had to eat lunch at a fast-food restaurant, where would you go and
what would you order?

I do eat lunch at fast food restaurants mainly because my daughter demands it.
She is a chicken nugget fan and likes the McDonald ones best so I end up with
a Big Mac and am usually hungry again two hours later, what do they put into
those things?

Can you give us a single piece of advice for aspiring skiers?
It has to be fun but fun can be defined in many ways. I think fun encompasses
seeing improvement, pushing yourself beyond comfortable boundaries, enjoying
the struggle. The hardest and most important thing a coach can do for a junior
racer is helping them enjoy the whole experience from the training to the racing.

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