Wilkes senior qualifies for national skiing competition

Justin Franiak, Sports Editor

 

“When I’m going down a mountain I feel free,” Jonathan Drebitko said. “There’s no stresses or worries about anything else.”

Drebitko’s stress and worries will be nonexistent as the junior business major prepares to ski down the mountain at the USASA ski nationals in April in Colorado.

Drebitko has not been competing long, but skiing is in his blood.

“The first time I skied I was five,” Drebitko said. “My dad influenced me because he used to race, and my whole family skis.”

Drebitko only took one skiing lesson in his whole life, but picked up the activity relatively quickly. He loved to go fast as a kid.

Drebitko’s competitive skiing started just last year. In his first competition, he claimed three gold medals and a silver. He went on to win the Mid-Atlantic region and will go into nationals ranked fifth in the nation. Drebitko competes in two types of skiing: skier cross and NASTAR, a type of ski racing.

Drebitko has always had the urge to compete, but didn’t take the step until recently.

“I knew that my dad raced and I’ve been wanting to compete since junior high,” Drebitko said. “But this year I finally took the steps to start. I’ve always thought I could be pretty good at skier cross.”

Drebitko said there’s usually around 100 competitors at a ski event, depending on the competition. The national compeition will have 180. All skiers will inspect the course and be granted a few practice runs.

All skiers will then run qualifying runs and will be placed into heats of skiers. The top two of these heats move on, continuing until there is a final heat, where a champion is crowned.

Drebitko says the training for nationals is tough and grueling.

“Its hard to train for skier cross because not many mountains have courses,” Drebitko said. “Any kind of racing or freesking is good.”

Drebitko credits Coach Keith Klahold for helping him train for this big event. Drebitko said he has spent hours in the Marts Fitness Center preparing. He said the workout Klahold created will help him adapt to the 13,000-foot altitude in Colorado.

Drebitko also uses his time as a ski instructor to help him get ready. He taught ski lessons to everyone from beginners to intermediate. He said the overall experience was fun, yet insightful.

“I had a great time working as a ski instructor this year,” Drebitko said. “I met a lot of great people and learned so much from the older more experienced racers.”

Along with the rush of skiing, Drebitko said qualifying for nationals was a phenomenal experience.

“It felt great to qualify for nationals and win the region,” Drebitko said. “I’m really excited for nationals because I will get to race against some of the best in the country.”

At nationals there is lots of potential to get noticed, Drebitko said. He said that renown snowboarder Shaun White started competing at the USASA nationals. Drebitko said if he does well at nationals, he may get an invite to a professional tour next year.

Drebitko said his favorite place to ski is Utah. His favorite mountains are Solitude and Brighton for the challenge they present.

“The hardest mountain I ever skied was Solitude in Utah,” Drebitko said. “It was incredible back country skiing, and it was awesome shredding untouched snow as high as your chest.”

Drebitko said he has had some spills and embarrassing moments skiing, but they aren’t anything to worry about.

“This past winter I was training on Sno’s weekend NASTAR course and caught an edge and did a complete yard sale and cart wheel and slid into the woods and hit a tree,” Drebitko said.

He was not badly hurt, but noted that his coach and everyone watching had a good laugh afterward.

Drebitko’s coach said he possesses some natural ability.

“There are some things with Skier Cross that you can’t teach, and he has those,” Radvanyi said.

Drebitko will take his talents to Colorado April 7-10 and said he will “go big or go home!”