BEIJING, China — Katie Hensien grew up in Redmond and learned to ski at Crystal Mountain. Now, she's competing against the best in the world at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
"It's exhilarating being able to go as fast as you can and having no limits is so fun," said Hensien.
It's a sensation Hensien started feeling when she was only 3 years old. Her parents knew what to do next.
"[My parents] put me in a ski program and that first day when they came back to pick me up, I was crying, and they asked the ski patrol like, ‘Oh, why is she crying, did she not like it? No, she's actually crying because the ski lift was closed,’” said Hensien. “Right away, my parents knew I loved to ski.”
Hensien now trains in Utah, but she got her real start at the Crystal Mountain Alpine Club.
"I didn't know it was a ski racing club until the first day, but I think after that first year, I knew that was what I wanted to do and pursue and become a professional skier," said Hensien.
And her hard work would pay off.
In 2017, Hensien made her first world cup start just before her 18th birthday.
Then in 2018, she finished fourth in the slalom at the World Junior Championships. Later that year, she was named to the U.S. ski team but also competed for the University of Denver.
Getting an education is important to Hensien.
"I think it's really good for me because I'm able to balance and not just focus on one thing,” explained Hensien. “I'm focused on multiple things, and I think I want to do something after ski racing.”
Hensien is double majoring in computer science and business. While she hopes to start her own business one day, right now, the goal is to make her mark at the Winter Olympics.
"Just going all in and at the top level, no one is backing down, and you have to trust in yourself," said Hensien.
She now lives and trains outside of Washington state, but the Alpine Club at Crystal not only gave her the tools to chase her Olympic dreams but she was also inspired there. She remembers a moment when she first met Libby Ludlow and Scott Macartney, both local athletes who skied at the Olympics.
When Hensien is not skiing, she loves to mountain bike. She said she learned to ride while growing up in Redmond and continues to do it in Colorado.
Hensien also volunteers with ZGiRLS, an organization that helps inspire young girls.