Alum Spotlight: James Ablondi

James Ablondi

Age: 24

Discipline with JHSC: Freeride Skiing 

How old were you when you joined JHSC?

For as long as my memory goes back I have been a part of JHSC. My parents tell me they had me strapped to plastic “Ski Party” skis which I used to make my way around the living room, then the yard, then the leach field, then the snow plow piles, then the Snow King rope where the JHSC was first subjected to my untamed four year old self. (Skiing slalom turns through the legs of chapped wooden cut-out cowboys)

I started NGS in kindergarten or 1st grade, mostly probably so my parents could get some energy out of me on Saturdays.

I was signed up for the cross country skiing sect. in about 2nd or 3rd grade under the jurisdiction of my mother who probably felt I was coming home from school with two much energy & not enough friends. This is where my clearer memories of JHSC starts.

  • I can remember participating in the annual Moose Chase 5k races & drinking lots of hot chocolate in the Trail Creek Nordic Cabin. 
  • Whether it was my mother’s intention or not, I did end up meeting a number of good buddies. 
    • We spent most of our time not training or listening to instructors. 
    • We enjoyed bombing the (not small) hills of Trail Creek, hoping to watch a friend slam into the snow banks during their almost-controlled descent; 
    • We spent memorable time building off trail jumps that wrecked our Nordic skis & packed our baselayers with snow.
    • We enjoyed shaking pine trees to collect snow piles over our tinny fleece hats.
    • We loved scaring instructors (and girls) by jumping out of the thick pine forests & making up ghost stories about Sam the truck, an old logging vehicle abandoned along one of trail creek’s loops. (Mostly I would just scare myself)

I finally transitioned to Freeride in 7th grade, following the lead of one of my best ski buddies, Colin F, whose older brother had been a long-time snowboarder in the program. I stuck with Freeride for the next 6 years, accumulating gear sponsors, competition wins, and a few mild concussions (helmet technology has improved by leaps and bounds since then).

How long were you a part of JHSC?

  • NGS from 1-6th grade
  • JHSC Nordic 2nd - 7th grade
  • JHSC Freeride from 7th-12th grade


In three sentences or less, explain your entire experience with the club.

  • Three words I would use to describe my experience with the JHSC are Comradely, Progression, Exhilaration. From this club came friendship, from friendship came progression & competition, from progression came exhilaration & a joy for doing, trying, failing, persevering. 


If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

  • Use my skiing to travel more. JHSC gave me incredible opportunities to explore mountains all across the US. I wish I had taken these opportunities further, taking advantage of lots of the programs abroad that JHSC offered. I would have loved to ski in Argentina, I never got to make it to Canada, I always wanted to ski in the Alps. Now that I am an alumni of this club, I can comfortably acknowledge that these opportunities have passed me by. However, I have begun to take on these aspirations myself. My friends and I were lucky to get ski powder in Japan. Explore the summer time slopes of ski areas throughout Spain. We (my old JHSC buddies) are currently planning the long-awaited Euro trip. These experiences are priceless and when you’re young in a club, it’s easy to see these opportunities as chores & training, not as lifetime goals and experiences. I urge all youth in JHSC to seek out these opportunities and make them happen - your coaches will most certainly not regret tagging along. 


What was the most fun part of being with the club?

  • The friends & connections. General Tom Foolery.


What do you do now?

  • I am currently an Architect in training. I work for Prospect Studio JH where I get to solve design problems, improve my tech & fabrication skills & build new relationships with amazing clients & co-workers.

How does your experience with JHSC affect you today, if at all?

  • Because of JHSC’s impact, I will ski until I physically can no longer.
  • JHSC has given me a strong will to progress my skills, to always be learning & gaining from new experiences. JHSC has thought me to take pride in my style & have confidence to pick myself up when I crash and burn. 


What skills did you learn while competing that apply to life outside of the club?

  • One important skill I still use that I learned during my time with JHSC is to calm myself with breathing exercises during tense & hectic situations (Thanks Rob Kingwill). It’s important to check in with your brain and body, especially when you find yourself moving faster then you’re comfortable. Re-connecting yourself to your surroundings can give you amazing ideas for new passions & projects. Mr. Kingwill opened my eyes to the use of breath repartition & focus to zone in on the important faces of a situation & zone out on the distractions. 

What is your all-time favorite memory of JHSC?

  • My favorite moments of Freeride were the times spent sitting at the bottom of competition runs watching & cheering for friends, building sofas in the snow (Snofas) & getting to forget about the anxiety of the start gate as soon as you reach the embrace of your teammates at the bottom. 


If you knew a kid that was thinking about becoming a part of the club, why do you think they should they join?

  • Join for progression of skills & strength
  • Join to connect with new, like-minded friends. 
  • Join to experience mountains & terrain in new ways, in new places, with new faces. 


Anything to add?

JHSC has left a permanent impression on my life in many good ways. I intend to ski for the rest of my life and carry on the skills & experiences I gained to new people.