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Waist-deep powder is up to Ravi Drugan’s head. The adaptive skier gets stuck in the occasional tree well, has had to bunk with 12 people to afford competitions, and sunk to his neck while pond skimming. But he’s still smiling at the end of every ski day.
How’d you get into skiing?
I was hit by a train in December 2004 when I was 15 and became a double amputee. I really thought learning to monoski was going to be a lot harder than it was. I had been two-plank skiing once or twice before my accident and was never that good at it. But my mom and dad wanted me to try it, and we found Hoodoo Skiing and Oregon Adaptive Sports (O.A.S.). So I kept an open mind and tried it.
What was learning like?
O.A.S. gave me a scholarship to try skiing. The first half of the day I skied with an instructor, but the second half of the day was just my dad and me. We went to the top of Hoodoo, and were skiing whiteout conditions on black diamonds. I just blindly followed him. Ever since, I try to ski as much as I can.
How’s monoskiing different than skiing on two skis or snowboarding?
The real difference is that your waist becomes your suspension. It requires more upper body strength, but it’s still a ski, and it still has two edges. I do monoskiing, but I compete in boarder cross. My coach just calls me a one-planker; I don’t really care if I’m called a skier or a snowboarder. I just like sliding down the snow. Adaptive skiing opens up the mountain to me, and it’s cool to get to go places like the backside of Mt. Bachelor. It gives you your mobility back. I feel equal with most able-body people on the snow.
How’d you get into racing?
During the first weekend of my second year, I was approached by a guy with a U.S. Ski Team patch. It ended up being Carl Burnett (3-time Paralympian), and he told me I should try racing. My first race was at Winter Park, and I had to ask the timer at the top if you go to the left or the right of the gate. I was also using all borrowed equipment other than my Hands on Concepts ski I had gotten three days before. I was the kid who was just there to have fun. While there, I met coaches with the National Ability Center, and eventually joined their team.
Talk about competing at the X Games.
I got the invitation one month before my first X Games in 2011. My first thought was, “Is this junk mail or a prank?” The X Games really opened up the door for sponsors. Without a lot of my local sponsors, I wouldn’t be able to make it each year. This year will be my third X Games, and hopefully it will go better than it has in the past.
(photos by Wind Home Photography)
Rumor has it that you’ve slept in your car to save enough money for X Games.
I’ve definitely had to sleep in my car because there was too much snow on the road or lack of funding for proper accommodation. It just makes early morning pow better. Being a double amputee makes sleeping in my car easier—I don’t really need the legroom. But at the X Games, I slept with my team. We had 12 people in a 3-bedroom condo.
What’s your most embarrassing ski moment?
The moments that seem like they’d be most embarrassing are all good fun for me. Is being stuck in an ’86 Trans Am in the snow embarrassing or part of the fun? I also participated in pond skimming one year. I made it about halfway before sinking to my neck. Someone told me the water was going to be warm. It wasn’t. It was still a lot of fun though.
What are your favorite parts about skiing?
I once had an alpine coach tell me I can’t ski the trees, and I can’t do the park. But I think it’s worth it, even if I get injured. I really like skiing in the trees, and I even get stuck in tree wells once in a while. I don’t think you can get to more beautiful spots than when you’re on skis or a snowboard. If I didn’t have skis right now, I’d be screwed. It’s about trying to conquer the mountain. Setting a line down something that someone didn’t think was possible and being in soft deep snow is amazing.
Favorite Beer? Ninkasi
Favorite Car? ’69 Camaro. Or my car (’86 Trans-Am).
Favorite Mountain? Wherever has the deepest snow.
Favorite Pre-Competition song? Depends how I’m feeling. Black Sabbath, Metallica, Beastie Boys, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, or any Old Music. What I’m listening to reflects on how I ski.