Jon Dinan | Democrat
Sullivan West’s Drew Billard won the Section IX alpine ski championship in February, qualifying for the state championship. He now has his eyes set on making the state golf championship in June, a rare double accomplishment among high school athletes.
By Jon Dinan
LAKE HUNTINGTON March 5, 2013 On February 12, local skiing sensation Drew Billard made history by becoming the first skier from Sullivan West to claim the Section IX Alpine skiing title at Hunter Mountain.
The victory was a dramatic improvement from last year when he finished a very respectable fifth at the section race. Billard went on to finish 14th in the state championship meet tops among all Section IX skiers in the race. Said Billard’s father and coach, Lionel Billard, about Drew’s impressive improvement:
“Drew is a hard worker and he’s extremely dedicated. He also grew nearly five inches over the past year and gained some weight and muscle which I think helped his speed.”
Said Drew about his season and championship victory:
“It’s been me and Kingston’s Greg Merrill going back and forth all season long,” said Billard. “It feels good, but it’ll be a bittersweet feeling leaving my friends and coaches who have been so helpful and supportive through the years,” he added.
Though Billard and Merrill are fierce competitors and opponents, they are good friends and have been skiing together for four years. Both he and Merril race together in the USSA (the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association) program at Belleayre Mountain in Catskill Park, NY.
“We practice together every weekend in the USSA,” said Billard.
Merrill’s father Bill has even served as a coach and a mentor for Billard though his main coach is his father, Lionel.
Drew now has his sights set on another first becoming the first Sullivan West athlete to win Section IX individual championships in two different sports. As one of the top golfers in the area, Billard is a top contender for the Section IX golf championship to be played later this spring.
Billard is coming off a successful summer season in which he fared well in several individual junior tournaments and teamed with Ken Cohen to win the Sullivan County Democrat Golf Tournament at the Villa Roma Golf Course, where he is currently employed.
Though several schools have expressed interest in Billard’s speed on the snow, he intends to shoot for a career on dry land, studying golf course management and playing golf at Methodist College in Fayetteville, where he has already been accepted.
“I enjoy being at the ski hill, but I can be at the golf course eight hours a day, seven days a week,” Billard revealed.
Eager to get the golf season started, he even snuck in a couple of practice shots recently on the snow-covered Villa Roma course.