CANMORE – With support of the ski community behind him, up-and-coming alpine racer Jesse Kertesz-Knight is making his dreams become reality.
The soon-to-be 19-year-old, fresh off his first season with the Alberta Ski Team, was awarded the 2022 Dee Read Memorial Athletic Award for his pursuit of racing excellence at the highest levels.
“I'm super grateful to get this award," he said. “The Reads are such a well-known family in skiing and I'm super honoured to get the Dee Read award."
According to FIS, Kertesz-Knight is top three in Canada for his age in slalom, combined, and super-G. One day, the young prospect hopes to start on the world cup or at the Olympics, but until then, he'll keep momentum going this upcoming season on the Nor-Am Cup circuit, and try to qualify for the biggest competition of his season, the Alpine Junior World Ski Championships in 2023.
The son of former national champion and world cup skier, Louise Knight, Kertesz-Knight got into ski racing at age eight – a "late" start by any standards. Though, you could say the ski spirit was embedded into his DNA and he was a natural.
After strong development season in 2021-22, which saw the teenage technical specialist win seven FIS races and podium five more, Kertesz-Knight debuted on the Nor-Am Cup.
It was on the feeder circuit to the world cup that Kertesz-Knight impressed coaches with a top 10 finish in combined, and placed in the top 30 on five other occasions.
“Jesse is a dedicated and hard-working athlete that is always striving to achieve and exceed his goals," said Josh Benge, athletic director of Alberta Alpine Ski Association in a press release.
“Beyond strict athletics, he is a devoted teammate that everyone enjoys being around. When you find him on the hill he is always smiling and happy to lend a hand to competitors, coaches, and teammates alike.”
The former Banff Alpine Racer splits time between the mountain communities of Jasper and the Bow Valley. And after the introduction to the Nor-Ams, Kertesz-Knight said he's aiming to be a mainstay on the circuit next season, with the year-end junior worlds firmly in his sights as well.
“The skiing [skills] that I have, it's not quite up there with the top guys yet, but it's getting there," said Kertesz-Knight. “The experience helps a lot and just the mileage of doing the [Nor-Am] events, eventually something will happen and you'll get there and it gets a lot easier."
The Dee Read award, which assists Alberta Ski Team athletes, comes with some funding to help offset costs for the pricey ski season.
Kertesz-Knight also created a GoFundeMe page to aid him in his goals, called Jesse Kertesz-Knight Ski Racing Dream.