Waconia junior Joe Dertinger is just a regular student. He goes to class and plays sports, competing on the Mound-Westonka/Holy Family/Waconia alpine ski team in the winter. He’s also a national champion.
Skiing since he was six and racing since age 11, Dertinger was recently crowed the Men’s Junior National Champion at the Huntsman Cup in Park City, Utah in March. Competing in slalom and giant slalom, Dertinger is now recognized as the fastest disabled skier in the United States under the age of 18. Dertinger is a below-knee amputee who skies with a prosthetic foot.
“Speedy Joe, always fast, never slow,” said Dertinger’s father, Michael.
Dertinger is humble about his accolades.
“To win the title is a whole new experience,” Dertinger said. “Anyone would want it.”
He added that it draws him closer to his dreams, which include the Paralympics, the World Cup, and to make the U.S. National team.
Dertinger trains with the Courage Center Ski and Snowboard program and head coach Lisa Gacek said he is a hardworking athlete closing in on his goals.
“He’s getting there, he’s on the brink,” she said.
Gacek remembered when Dertinger was first learning to turn on skies, but insisted on going fast.
“I would stand at the bottom [of the hill] and yell ‘Turn! Turn!’,” she recalled.
Nels Dyste, program coordinator at the Courage Center, said it would be easy for Dertinger to only attend the weekly ski events, but has found success because he also competes at the varsity level against able-bodied skiers.
“I think that’s why he’s excelled,” Dyste said. “We’re really proud of him. Joe’s become kind of the poster child of the program.”
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]