GROVELAND — Ethan Harrison, 19, will represent the United States at the 2019 WorldSkills competition which will be held in Kazan, Russia.
The WorldSkills event is an international contest for young craftsmen who compete in over 40 different trade categories.
The competition in Kazan is the 45th WorldSkills event which is held every other year. Teams from 63 countries will vie with one another in 56 different skills. Approximately 1,500 craftsmen age 24 or younger will participate in the event.
“There are 22 of us on the team,” Harrison said in an interview on Wednesday. “We’ve met up as a team four times already.”
The United States is sending 22 craftsmen plus over 25 coaches and support staff to this year’s event, which will be held Aug. 22-27. All of the team members have been training for the last year in preparation for the 2019 competition.
Harrison was one of seven to graduate with “scholastic honors” last year from Blackfoot High School. As a junior at BHS, he won a gold medal for cabinetmaking at the state-level SkillsUSA competition for Idaho and a silver medal at the national 2017 competition in Louisville, Ky. Blackfoot High School is a regular participant in the SkillsUSA program, which is the United States branch of the WorldSkills organization.
Last year, Harrision declined the opportunity to compete again at 2018 SkillsUSA because he was given the opportunity to compete instead for a seat on the 2019 WorldSkills team representing the United States.
The opportunity to win a seat on the United States team for cabinetmaking was offered to the six medal winners from the 2016 and 2017 SkillsUSA contests. Four decided to compete.
Beginning in January 2018, Harrison and the other contestants were interviewed and asked to submit a portfolio of projects designed to demonstrate his craftsmanship. As a result, Harrison and one other cabinet maker from South Carolina were chosen as finalists. They faced off in a one-on-one at the 2018 SkillsUSA event in Louisville, where Harrison won his place on the USA team.
Harrision learned most of his woodworking skills at Blackfoot High School from woodcraft teacher Pete Golinveaux, who retired this year.
Blackfoot School District Superintendent Brian Kress stated, “The Blackfoot public schools are so proud of Ethan and his accomplishments. We are confident that he will represent Blackfoot and the United States very well next month at the WorldSkills competition and wish him the best of luck.”
Harrison has lived in Logan, Utah; Decatur and Yorkville, Ill., and the tri-cities area of Washington. He moved with his family to Blackfoot six years ago when his father transferred from the Spudnik operation in Pasco, Wash., to the local Spudnik facility in Bingham County. Harrison and his family currently live in Groveland.
After the WorldSkills competition, Harrision will serve on a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for two years. He doesn’t know where his mission will take him.
“I haven’t heard where I’m going yet,” he remarked. “I should find out next week.”
After his mission, Harrison plans on going to college.
Harrison’s skill is cabinetmaking. He must build a cabinet or a similar wooden piece of furniture from start to finish over two days. He cannot take more than 22 hours to finish the project.
The wood for the competition will be provided but Harrison will use his own tools. The only hardware allowed will be metal hinges for cabinet doors. All other joints and drawer sliders must be crafted from scratch, wood-on-wood, like dovetails or bridal joints.
Harrison has been been in Madison, Wis., for most of the past year training at the Madison Area Technical College where his coach, Jeff Molzahn, teaches wood crafting skills.
The 45th WorldSkills competition will be held at the Kazan Expo International Exhibition Centre.
“We will be staying at the (Universiade) olympic village,” Harrison said. “That’s what was used when Kazan hosted the World Cup last year.”
After the competition is over, Harrison will spend a week and a half touring with his father through Russia while his father makes business calls on behalf of his employer, Spudnik Equipment.
“I’m really looking forward to traveling around and seeing Russia,” Harrision remarked.
Because he won the right to compete at WorldSkills, Harrision was also invited to participate in the World Wood Day exhibition. The one-week event was held in March in Graz, Austria.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to see much of Graz,” Harrison said. “We were so busy every day demonstrating our skills that the only free time was after nine at night, and there wasn’t anything open that late besides bars.”
Kazan is the sixth-largest city in Russia. Located on the Volga River, the city’s medieval fortress is a World Heritage Site. Kazan is known as the “third capital of Russia,” after Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Similar to the Olympics and the World Cup, cities compete for the honor of hosting the WorldSkills competition. Kazan beat out Paris in order to hold the event in 2019.
Harrison is leaving Aug. 18 from Idaho Falls to meet up with the rest of the USA team in Washington, DC. From there, the team, coaches and support staff will fly to Kazan with an eight-hour layover in Istanbul.
“We don’t have visas for Turkey so we won’t be able to see any of Istanbul while changing planes,” Harrison remarked.
The team is required to wear their white USA team jackets and blue team shirts and ball caps while traveling. “I’m not looking forward to that because it will be hot,” said Harrision while displaying his team jacket.
WorldSkills International is a multi-country organization of which the SkillsUSA program is a part. SkillsUSA is a nonprofit foundation which was founded in 1965 to promote the acquisition and honing of job-level skills in secondary and collegiate institutions. They are endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and sponsor skills competitions at the local, state and national levels. Blackfoot High School is a regular participant in the SkillsUSA program.