Sonoma teen Oscar Halliwell last month returned from two weeks of alpine ski racing in Queenstown, New Zealand competing for a spot on New Zealand’s junior national team.
While Halliwell was born in Australia, both his parents are Kiwis and he is a citizen of New Zealand.
He returned home to Sonoma with a handful of medals last month and a berth on New Zealand’s team which will compete against teams from 55 nations at the Trofeo Topolino Junior World Cup in northern Italy this February, and at the Whistler Cup in Canada in April.
“I just love racing,” said the Presentation School student. “I love everything about it.”
Halliwell’s dream is to make the Olympic team after he turns 16. He knows a lot of hard work and intense training lies ahead, but “It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like fun.”
Halliwell put on his first pairs of skis at age two and began racing at age five. His mother Vicki coaches the youngest ski team members at Squaw Valley and his father and sister Olivia are also accomplished skiers.
Beginning every November, for as long as Halliwell can remember, he has packed up his homework and his gear on Wednesday nights for the trip to Squaw Valley, returning home late on Sundays.
Whether it is in the winter months at Squaw or July in New Zealand, he trains long days, works out in the gym after skiing, tunes his own skis at night and attends team meetings and video sessions.
The teenager misses a lot of birthday parties and his parent’s friends know that the family can’t socialize in Sonoma during the winter months, but the whole family agrees that it is worth the sacrifice.
His school has been accommodating, too. “Presentation has worked with us to come up with a plan that has allowed Oscar to continue to spend four days a week racing at Squaw and still keep up with his class and his assignments,” his mother Vicki said. “We really appreciate the flexibility as we are determined for Oscar to get a truly top-notch education while still pursuing his dream of a racing career.”
Halliwell’s parents moved to the U.S. in the 1990’s. They moved to Sonoma in 2007 from Atherton because they loved the town, and wanted to shorten their drive time to the Tahoe slopes. “I’m a huge fan of Sonoma and wine country,” says John Halliwell. “We absolutely love it here and we’ve cut our drive time in half.”