Nils Galloway thrives on skiing fast and competing in slalom races. Most importantly, though, the Snoqualmie teenager likes having fun with the sport he’s been on board with since the age of 3.
When the 13-year-old gets moving on the course, he hits tops speeds of 40-50 mph and he’s probably grinning a bit while he’s barreling downhill toward the finish line. He’s been racing since the age of 7, getting his start with the Stevens Pass Alpine Club.
“I’m not nervous for races. Nope, not at all,” said Galloway, who was on the phone from Whistler, British Columbia, last week, a day before digging into his events at the International Whistler Cup as part of a U14 Team USA squad. He took 26th in the giant slalom out of 155 racers and didn’t finish the slalom in tough course conditions.
Galloway placed fifth overall in the combined Super G, giant slalom and slalom standings at the recent U14 United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Western Region event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He qualified for Whistler at that event as one of the top 18 U14 racers in the US.
The Chief Kanim Middle School student notched several top-five finishes in the premier USSA Intermountain division, which includes skiers from Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Galloway attends Chief Kanim for part of the year, and attends schools in Idaho during the winter ski season while racing for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation squad. His dad, Art, teaches at the Sun Valley Snowsports School from November-April.
Art, a former Mount Si High social studies teacher, calls the Sun Valley gig his “retirement job,” and Nils has joined his dad in the area for the last three seasons. Art’s wife, Christine Kjenner, is a math instructor at Mount Si along with being a third-level alpine skiing instructor; Art is both a third-level alpine and snowboarding instructor.
“He’s always skied well. He was a natural at it,” said Art, noting that Nils won the U12 Pacific Northwest slalom championships at age 11. “That’s when we had an idea he had some good ski racing talent.”
Nils said the key to success is keeping focused while training and in races. He gets a little adrenaline boost when he’s zooming down the hill, but he’s not thinking about anything but getting the job done.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t like it,” said Nils, who enjoys math class and plays soccer when he’s not skiing.
Art said that his son is driven, focused and passionate about his sport and enjoys the company of his teammates, who train and travel together and support each other. Nils kept his goals of placing well at Western Region and advancing to Whistler to himself, Art added, but now everyone’s in on his ride to success.
Winter sports triumphs run in the family as Kjenner’s uncle, Finn Helgesen, won gold and bronze medals in speed skating in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.
Nils said he doesn’t aspire to by an Olympian, but would like to snag a ski scholarship to college, for starters.
“It’s definitely not the safest sport,” he said. “I’ve been pretty fortunate on staying healthy and not hurting myself.”
And that time he ripped down the hill at 76 mph in a non-competition session? That was pretty fun, he said with chuckle.