'That’s Racing' – Cody Kelley and the Sea Otter Dual Slalom

Apr 27, 2017
by Giro Sport Design  



The Sea Otter Classic Dual Slalom is many things. It is the “Unofficial Dual Slalom World Championships”, it is unpredictable, it is a party; it is both a rider and fan favorite and a mix of new school and old. It’s racing in one of its’ finest and most exciting forms, and in racing, anything can happen.

Saturday afternoon’s at the Otter can cement the legendary status of some, and catapult other unknown faces into the spotlight. Yeti Fox Factory Team's Cody Kelley fits into the latter category—while the world now knows and loves his signature style and hair, he was a virtual unknown when he won here as a teenager in 2014. Turquoise factory rides, EWS results, and #manimonday’s followed, but this is where it all started.

We had the pleasure of following Cody through this years’ Slalom event and got a window into the world of one of mountain biking’s fastest gated racers as he sought to reclaim his title in one of the most electric races on the calendar.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Morning practice—just seven hours before the gate drops on finals—is the first time pros put tires to track. The 2017 course had some major changes compared to tracks of the past, and every lap counted as racers tried to get up to speed before qualifying.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Cody was racing without his own pits or mechanic—a privateer in a factory kit for a day.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
This guy is about as humble and approachable as they come and was happy to chat with fans on the side of the track.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
With lots of the track being either new or quite tight, there was lots of line scoping and discussion among racers.

Cody Kelley and the Sea Otter Dual Slalom
It didn't take long for the style to come out. First run on the blue course.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Cody and Joey Foresta are like brothers. With slalom podiums for both in their teenage years, we'd like to know what's in that Utah water.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
From an open outside lane berm into the tightest turn on course, this corner took some a while to get used to. Cody ripping in the last run before qualifying.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Superstitions from growing up racing BMX: Cody always puts the left side items of clothing pairs on first, and never wears matching gloves.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
High-fives before qualifying.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Qualifying. The first time the clocks come out; a timed run on each course to set the bracket for the big show.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
While the days' focus is set firmly between the gates, there are always other things going on at a big race like this. Bike check with Pinkbike after qualifying.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Checking results...

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
...3rd spot in qualifying for Mr. Kelley.

When results went up, Cody was sitting in third—a great spot for someone who felt like he had faster runs in him. Relaxed and modest about the riding that slotted him that high in the order, Cody had a few hours to go eat and chill before finals.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Lots of high fives, photos, and stoked fans on this commute through the festival.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
A top pro, enjoying the same culinary experience as his fans at Sea Otter. One of the amazing things about this sport.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

With a childhood spent racing BMX across the country, family is a huge part of racing for Cody. As amazing as having a professional mechanic and team crew around you all the time can be, there’s a certain kind of support that only Mom can give. While his international race schedule means his family makes it to fewer races these days, Cody was stoked to have his original race support crew around this weekend.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Slalom is a full day of explosive riding, and staying fueled is key. More carbs and protein before heading back up the hill.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Gearing up for the big show.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
New number plates after qualifying. Would 3 be a lucky number today?

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Dropping in for one last practice run.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Loosening up for finals.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

The crowd was lined up deep along the fences as the first racers slotted into the gate. Slalom is the marquee show at Sea Otter, and spectators enjoy an event that is the festivals’ biggest party and at the same time some of the most test and unpredictable racing on two wheels. Wind and dark clouds arrived in the afternoon and gave this slalom an extra dramatic feel—and the racing would meet the mood.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Round of 32, Run 1.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
On the slower blue course, Cody stayed tight and was just nipped at the line.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Round of 32, Run 2. After an unfortunate mistake, Cody was not where a racer wants to find themselves.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017
An impressive display of positivity and showmanship after a climactic mistake from one of the race favorites.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

After staying tight on the slower course during the first run, Cody just needed a smooth run and a small win to move on. But racing is unpredictable, and dual slalom is some of the most uncertain racing out there. After a small mistake up top during his second run, Cody was pushing and went down in a berm mid-course. Though his day was done, Cody’s head was down for only a second before he was back on the bike and styling the rest of the course for the fans.

“That’s racing”, said Cody at the bottom. He was a little bummed, but was pretty quickly flashing big smiles and chatting with fans. Then he was off to watch his buddies race and see Mitch Ropelato, another one of Cody's childhood friends, take the win. There really must be something in that Utah water.

Images for Cody Kelley Sea Otter Slalom 2017

Thanks to Cody Kelley of the Yeti Fox Factory Team.

Words and photos by Satchel Cronk.



MENTIONS: @GiroSportDesign / @satchscratch




24 Comments

  • 29 0
 YESSSS SATCHEL
  • 9 0
 Killing it out there with the camera satchel!!
  • 3 0
 Satchel Cronk, a man among men
  • 1 8
flag iluvbackforks (Apr 27, 2017 at 22:06) (Below Threshold)
 MY BOY KAYMAN MURKED HIM
  • 18 1
 Where's "Old Dog?"
To know Mike Kelley is to understand where young Cody gets his humble attitude and down-2earth demeanor. Mike Is one of the coolest guys you will ever meet anywhere near an mtb trail. Best if luck to this family!! Great ambassadors for mtbing ' and great people.
  • 2 0
 This is absolutely true, I met them both at Bootleg Canyon many years ago and the way they carried themselves you would have never thought you were amongst such shredders. They carried themselves like any other rider out there having a good time. Then we hit the trail and I never saw Cody again...haha
  • 9 0
 Last year I was looking to buy yeti sb6 but didn't know what size to get, I don't know him but I messaged him on instagram asking questions about his height and bike size... he took the time to answer all my questions and helped me decide on a frame size... and now I'm a yeti rider and a Cody fan! Best of luck to him ????
  • 8 0
 This was a great photo essay and really helped convey the entire experience of the pro's. All we usually see is the race day intensity and courses without really understanding everything that goes into that performance. Very well done.
  • 10 0
 Why isn't slalom a big deal? I feel like it could be a big discipline with the right marketing.
  • 6 0
 Well done Satchel
  • 4 0
 Had the pleasure of chatting with him at our LBS. Super nice guy. Kill it this year Cody!
  • 4 0
 Certainly has the BMX style..
  • 2 0
 Cody has style for miles. It was a pleasure watching him compete. This photo essay filled in some gaps for me on race day. Great story and photos! Kudos.
  • 3 0
 Gotta love those local boys
  • 2 0
 always a pleasure watching Cody ride and this photo essay is quite wonderful... rock on kid.
  • 3 0
 Rude may win trophies, but Kelly gets the babes with his tabes.
  • 6 3
 #proudcoach
  • 1 0
 yeah dee!
  • 3 1
 It's cool a Yeti rides a Yeti.
  • 1 0
 What is the bet that as soon as I buy a Yeti SB4.5, Yeti will bring out a new 4X...?
  • 1 0
 How long until PB starts writing articles to promote 29" wheels in dual slalom??
  • 1 0
 Great family and great friends.
  • 1 0
 Style style style
  • 1 1
 Yeti Wink

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