HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A Marshall University student whose grandfather first taught him to ski on West Virginia’s hills when he was five is one of two students setting out Sunday for what will be a three month trip to South Korea for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
“My dad, uncle and grandfather were all big time skiers and they passed down what they learned to my brother and I,” said Kade Sebastian, 19, of Huntington.
He and his friend, Takuya Endo, 20, of Japan, who are both sports management majors at Marshall, will be teaching others when they serve as interns at Yongpyong Resort’s Ski and Snowboard School.
“The Winter Olympics, prior to when they actually start, bring in tourists, so they need people who can speak various languages in order to communicate with all these travelers,” Sebastian, a sophomore at Marshall, told MetroNews.
Their internships are part of a first of its kind collaboration between Yongpyong Resort, which claims to be the largest ski and snowboard resort in Korea, and an American university.
It’s one of the global internship opportunities provided through Marshall University’s College of Health Professions.
The XXIII Olympic Winter Games are scheduled for Feb. 9 – 25 in PyeongChang, South Korea with about 90 nations scheduled to participate followed by the Winter Paralympics from March 8 – 18.
Yongpyong is one of three resort sites scheduled to host athletes and is also the location for the technical alpine skiing events, according to resort information.
Once the games begin, Sebastian said his training work at the resort along with Endo’s work would transition to support roles for the Olympics.
The two are scheduled to return to West Virginia in mid-March.
It’ll be Sebastian’s first ever trip out of the United States. He’ll travel to Seoul, South Korea via Charleston, W.Va. and Atlanta, Ga. over nearly a full day.
“Ever since I got into college, I’ve gotten more into traveling and, especially where this is free, this is a good way for me to travel the world,” he said.
“Room and board’s paid for, food’s paid for. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
While abroad, Sebastian and Endo will be continue other coursework online.
For the internship, University officials said they’ll earn six college credit hours each along with an international snowboarding instructor certifications which are recognized worldwide.
Sebastian said his family in Wayne County is supportive.
“They were a little shocked at first whenever they found out I was going, but they’ve settled in now and they’re looking forward to it just as much as I am,” he said.