Sports

Park City 8-year-old phenom takes snowboarding nationals by storm

Kennedy Galinski of Park City has now been crowned the No. 1 Overall Snowboard National Champion at the USASA Snowboard and Freeski Nationals, with a podium in every event.

PARK CITY, Utah — Kennedy Galinski was introduced to Snowboarding when she was just 13 months old. According to her Dad, Ken, she was this “cute little bundle of joy going down the mountain on her leash.” By the time she was 4 years old, she was doing it all by herself. Fast forward four years, and that Kennedy has now been crowned the No. 1 Overall Snowboard National Champion at the USASA Snowboard and Freeski Nationals, with a podium in every event.

Kennedy placed second in the halfpipe, slopestyle, bordercross, and slalom events with a third-place finish in the giant slalom event at the 2024 USASA Freeski National Championships at Copper Mountain.

Kennedy Galinski at the USASA Nationals competition at Copper Mountain, CO.
Kennedy Galinski at the USASA Nationals competition at Copper Mountain, CO. Photo: Ken Galinski

Kennedy is a Park City local and a second grader at Silver Summit Academy. According to Ken, it’s a great place for Kennedy to get her schooling and also focus on her passion: snowboarding. The school allows for learning flexibility, but Ken states, “We do a lot of homework behind the scenes… Switching gears from being the coach to the educator is something that I do.”

The family moved to Park City two years ago after Kennedy was promoted to the comp team in Flagstaff, Arizona. Ken stated that she was the youngest one to be brought onto the Flagstaff Ski and Snowboard team, and one of the reasons they chose to move to Park City was so she could focus on her training.

“When we moved here to Park City, we started riding heavily at the Woodward facility and training with Park City Ski and Snowboard team, and these last two years, Kennedy’s progression has really skyrocketed and shot through the moon,” Ken said.

The Galinski family is a family of snowboarders, but for Kennedy, the spark came all on her own, and she has made it a part of her day-to-day life.

“Snowboarding is just one of those things that she wants to do when she gets home. She draws pictures of snowboarding, and paintings. So it’s really amazing to just see the love coming from within for the sport,” Ken said.

While the ski season is coming to a close, Kennedy’s family is already prepping for spring training with a pipe and park camp at Mammoth and a training program at Mt. Hood on its glacier. Ken is looking forward to the upcoming trainings for Kennedy because it’s a snowboarding community, and everyone there is a dedicated and focused athlete, but it also builds camaraderie.

“It’s inspiring when kids have the opportunity to grow up within that and feel like they’re a part of it,” Ken said. “It doesn’t put them in a box below that where they feel like it’s unobtainable.”

Ken recalled a memory from the recent weekend of Kennedy’s big win, where she had the opportunity to meet one of her snowboarding heroes.

“One of Kennedy’s coaches is an Olympic snowboard coach, and he taught Shaun White, and it’s amazing that she gets to apprentice under that. Shaun White was out there in Copper and came out to say hi to the coach and took a lap with all the kids… It was absolutely amazing. When you’re riding with your heroes; it breaks down the boundaries,” Ken said.

Kennedy may have a dedicated passion for snowboarding, but her parents emphasize having fun and keeping the balance. When she isn’t snowboarding, Kennedy is mountain biking, surfing, paddle boarding, and skating. Kennedy does compete in some mountain bike races, but according to Ken, they are really for fun and with the family.

“I think that is the yin to the yang. I wouldn’t say snowboarding is high pressure in any way but she can focus on her snowboarding and let that be the competition side of things, and then biking she can just enjoy and have fun and ride freely,” Ken said.

With the latest win in the rearview mirror and upcoming training to prepare her for next season, Kennedy is aiming for more podium finishes. And Ken? He is one proud dad. “There is a little grin from ear to ear right now.”

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