As the ski season comes to a close, athletes and parents across the country are considering what’s next in their ski careers. Is a ski academy in the future? That question can be a daunting proposal. The next question is: Where should I go?
The search is never simple. So to help shed light on the situation, Ski Racing Media has compiled top highlights from programs that run as full-time/traditional academies or academies with winter options. Each academy is unique in location, facilities, student to staff ratio, extracurricular programs, and of course in training. Here are some of the things that each full-year academies highlighted in our yearly survey.
If you or your athlete are looking for academies that are full-time with a winter term option, or academies that operate winter-term only, click here.
Alpine Race Academy at Loveland
Loveland Ski Area – Georgetown, Colorado
Boasting the longest on-snow season of any U.S. based academy from October to June, the Alpine Race Academy at Loveland offers easy access to private training to the Denver Metropolitan area (they even offer a van service from Denver to all training sessions). Loveland hosts nine venues across the upper and lower ski areas on the mountain, giving athlete’s access to various snow conditions. The academy sticks true to a five to one athlete to coach ratio, to ensure their athletes have a personalized experience and easy access to feedback and assistance during training. In addition, Loveland offers personalized strength and conditioning training year round as well as summer leadership trips in the offseason, which will be key as athletes head into the 2019/20 season, prior to the return of Loveland’s FIS program.
Burke Mountain Academy
East Burke, Vermont
Since 1970, Burke Mountain Academy (BMA) has produced some of the best athletes in American ski racing, including 2018/19 Overall crystal globe winner, Mikaela Shiffrin, and seven-time National Champion, Nina O’Brien. Located on the side of Burke Mountain in Vermont, students can walk to the base of the training hill that now features a high-speed T-bar and top of the line snowmaking upgrades to ensure high-quality training remains an option throughout the season. BMA has also recently updated its equipment facilities and now possesses a Montana Saphir automated stone-grinder, a full-time technician, and an equipment manager. Burke highlights their community and strives to bring the best out of their staff and athletes by tackling education, athletics, personal growth, and challenging the human spirit. Additionally, the offseason offers easy access to mountain biking on the famous Kingdom Trails in Vermont, a great way to get out of the gym and into another mentally and physically challenging sport.
Recently, the New York Times covered the intimacy of the academy experience of Shiffrin’s alma mater. Click here to find out more.
Plymouth, New Hampshire
Since 1940, Holderness School has produced Olympic athletes, World Championship Team members, Collegiate All-Americans, and National Team members as a historic eastern alpine program. They offer a college preparatory curriculum with a wide range of courses, small class sizes, and an emphasis on experiential learning. Every March, Holderness takes the entire school on a ten-day adventure outside of the classroom that contributes to their overall goal of strengthening minds, bodies, and spiritual lives of students, with four different programs so each student can find the experience that’s best for them.
Project Outreach takes place in Lowell, Massachusetts and revolves around service and service learning; Artward Bound immerses students in the arts working with professional artists at the potter’s wheel, on the stage, in the recording studio, writing poetry, and inspiring each other in artistic ways; Out Back is a counter-cultural challenge away from the ease and convenience of modern life and teaches leadership and wilderness survival skills; and Senior Thesis takes the student on an investigation of their own choosing exploring a topic that might very well lead to their professional pursuit — they truly own their own education. At Holderness, you don’t have to sacrifice your academic interests for your athletic pursuits.
Notable Alumni – Julia Ford, Chris Davenport, Andy Martin
Cardigan Mountain School
Canaan, New Hampshire
Cardigan Mountain School, directed by former U.S. Ski Team member, Julia Ford, specializes in education and athletics for boys in grades 6-9. An integral part of the curriculum is the PEAKS program — Personalized Education for the Acquisition of Knowledge and Skills — which focuses on teaching boys how to understand themselves as learners, athletes, and human beings. Cardigan Mountain School’s education system caters to the learning style of boys based on age, meaning that throughout their time in the program, they will be taught in a way that best suits them at their current stage of development. To avoid the academic disruption often caused in the winter due to training, Cardigan uses this system to enhance their education while in season, while still offering 5-6 days per week of on-hill time, dry-land training, and the opportunity to enjoy team sports, such as mountain biking, in other seasons.
In May, Cardigan Mountain School will break ground on the “Center for Exploration”, a 19,000 square foot building that will be home to visual arts, digital arts, woodworking, an invention and innovation lab, and an art gallery, to give students better access to experiential learning, set to open in the 2020/2021 season.
Mount Snow Academy
West Dover, Vermont
Mount Snow Academy (MSA) has called West Dover, Vermont, home since 1980, where students have easy access to training at both Mount Snow Ski Area and the Hermitage Club. A one to one student to teacher ratio and a five to one student to coach ratio ensures that students are fully catered to on an academic and athletic level for seamless transitions in and out of season. Students are also expected to act as working members of the community, living in a house that allows students to feel cared for while learning self-sufficiency in a group environment.
Alpine skiers at MSA train for competition in slalom, giant slalom, and super-G and are not limited to a particular trail or type of terrain for training. This allows MSA to customize their daily training according to an athlete’s competition schedule and weather conditions.
National Ski Academy
Collingwood, Ontario, Canda
The National Ski Academy (NSA) aims to maximize individual potential through the pursuit of alpine ski racing excellence, academic achievement, and personal growth. Students from all over the world come to NSA to take advantage of a year-round program that offers “education that travels” — meaning that class time at NSA does not require sitting in one place. Teachers work with student-athletes in Collingwood, Ontario (where the academy is based, just two hours outside of Toronto), at the beginning of the fall term, then travel to their European base in Saas Fee, Switzerland, to continue teaching classes with an educational excursion to Italy. The rest of the academic year is split into quads, where teachers and students work together while they are away training or racing and take in as many experiential learning opportunities when they’re back on the ground. Students consistently run through fitness tests and biomedical assessments to help with both physical and mental fitness throughout the course of the year. The Georgian Bay’s natural beauty and home-like atmosphere provide a great space for students to get outside.
Picabo Street Academy
Park City, Utah
Picabo Street Academy provides schooling opportunities to athlete’s from a variety of different sport, and runs year-round on a rolling enrollment so that individual schedules can be accommodated. Personalized schedule development and flexibility allows for full participation in all training and competition opportunities for athletes in any sport, without taking away from academics. Students determine the pace and timing of classes to suit their individual learning ability and demands of their sport, allowing for success in both arenas. The school is located in Park City, Utah, where most students live, although some students attend school elsewhere for part of the year and return to Park City when their schedule permits.
Run by two-time Olympic medalist and two-time overall downhill World Cup winner, Picabo Street.
Andover, New Hampshire
Proctor Academy focuses on preparing students for life beyond ski racing, offering 140 academic courses coupled with an educational model rooted in experiential learning. Their five term-long off-campus programs – European Art Classroom, Mountain Classroom, Costa Rica Abroad, Ocean Classroom, and Proctor in Spain – offer students an opportunity to dig deep into other passions, while not taking away from their athletic pursuits. While a majority of students board, Proctor also offers a day-class option for students in the Andover, New Hampshire, area, just 30 minutes from Concord, 45 minutes from Hanover, and 90 minutes from Boston.
Proctor has access to a privately owned and operated FIS ski hill and is also a U.S. Ski & Snowboard High Performance Center. Their robust on-snow program includes pre-season training trips to Europe, South America, Canada, Colorado, and California. By December of 2019, construction on a new outdoor center will be completed, featuring state of the art workshops, tuning rooms, and storage areas for outdoor gear and equipment. Proctor’s educational model and commitment to experiential learning allow for a true synergy to exist between elite level skiing and world-class academies.
Notable Alumni – Bob Beattie, Carl Van Loa, Jed Hinkley
Salt Lake City, Utah
Rowmark Ski Academy was found in 1982 as a division of Salt Lake City’s Rowland Hall, a premier college-preparatory school that is now designated as a Gold Certified Academy by U.S. Ski & Snowboard. A nine-month academic program and a year-round racing program based out of Park City and Snowbird, coupled with off-season camps in Mammoth, Mt. Hood, Chile, Italy, and Colorado provides a rigorous training program and strong academics to develop a complete student-athlete. Rowmark is also deeply involved in the Utah Olympic Park Expansion project, which will provide even more early season training opportunities beginning in November 2019.
Full-time academy skiers have the same academic requirements as other Rowland Hall students but do not have afternoon classes December through March to allow for training after lunch. Six full-time coaches oversee a group of 30 students, making the athlete to coach ratio one to six, so that each student-athlete has the opportunity to develop relationships with their coaches and get the most out of their training. A junior program is also available for students ranging from 3rd through 8th grade.
Notable alumni – Breezy Johnson, Alice McKennis, Katie Hensien, Picabo Street, and Hilary Lindh
Squaw Valley Academy
Olympic Valley, California
In conjunction with the Squaw Valley Ski Team, the Squaw Valley Academy (SVA) has created a flexible schedule to integrate the rigorous demands of a skier’s preparation and race schedule with academics. As a one-to-one MacBook Air school, SVA uses tech to help students keep up with classwork while on the road during competition season. Their Academic Support Program and counseling services are also available for students who need extra assistance or wish to get ahead during the offseason.
With 17 training venues on the hill, SVA and the Squaw Valley Ski Team offer the most diverse training opportunities in the country with the benefit of various environments and terrain scenarios, so that athlete’s can develop at an accelerated rate. Small class sizes and college preparatory academics with a flexible schedule that allows for on-snow and off-snow training at one of the most diverse resorts in the United States is a recipe for success. Individual needs of each student is an integral part of SVA, both in academia and athletics.
Notable alumni – Todd Kelly, Edie Thys Morgan, Travis Ganong
Steamboat Mountain School
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Steamboat Mountain School is a college-preparatory school that seamlessly combines academics and adventure into one education. Programs outside of the classroom and around the globe build student’s knowledge, while also exposing them to the world outside of Steamboat and athletics. The Competitive Ski & Ride Program runs in conjunction with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, offering elite athletic training in addition to challenging small classes and global travel. Alpine student-athletes learn how to balance their schedules and success on the road in season with proctored study halls and exams, and constant support from teachers using the Google Suite, video-taped lectures, and other online tools. On campus facilities include several training venues on and around Steamboat Ski Resort, as well as the Alpine Training and Competition Venue on the grounds of Steamboat Ski Resort. In the off-season, students have the opportunity to take advantage of Steamboat’s Global Immersion Studies program, where small groups of students travel abroad for four weeks each spring to various developing countries and become fully immersed in a new culture.
Program Director and Olympian Caroline Lalive also focus on developing strong female athletes by taking ambitious women and supporting them throughout their development so girls have the tools to be intellectuals and competitive athletes.
Notable Alumni – Hig Roberts, Caroline Lalive Carmichael
Sun Valley Ski Academy at Community School
Sun Valley, Idaho
In addition to top-notch college preparatory academics, Sun Valley Ski Academy emphasizes experiential learning in the outdoors. The Outdoor Leadership Academy and multiple outdoor trips (such as rafting in the Main Salmon River, or backpacking the Olympic Peninsula) are integral to the overall school experience. Out of season sports programs such as tennis and soccer have seen great success. A creative arts academy allows students to participate in theater, visual and performing arts. Students have an opportunity to have a full high school experience outside of academics and ski racing. At SVSA you can be a student, an athlete, an artist, an outdoorsman, the list goes on and on!
As a U.S. Ski & Snowboard certified Gold Club, parents can rest assured that student-athletes are receiving competitive, high-level training. This season, SVSA took a new approach to the winter season by revising their schedule and offering student-athletes more academic support and more time training. This additional flexibility allowed students that are often on the road the ability to stay on top of their work and stay focused on race day. The state of the art Engl Training Center is located just a minute walk from the chairlift, providing easy access to recovery and strength and conditioning equipment. Athletes can also make use of the SVSEF Air Barn.
Team Summit in Partnership with the Peak School
At the Peak School, you don’t just learn about your passions, you live them. Personalized, progressive education is combined with long-range athletic development so each athlete has the opportunity to reach their personal podiums. A seven to one student to faculty ratio means plenty of face time with educators in the classroom and individualized support of student-athletes. Access to world-class skiing mountains such as Breckinridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin makes for competitive training at multiple venues and more at-home on-snow training days than any other ski or snowboard academy in the United States. An on-site performance and medial director oversees dry-land training to reduce the risk of injury during key times in an athlete’s development.
The Peak School also has a distinguished Outdoor Education Program that takes students out into the field to learn rather than forcing them into a classroom during beautiful Colorado summers. Students also have access to an extensive arts program, that connects students to groups outside of school, such as local dance troupes and productions at the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre.
Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail)
Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy (VSSA) is unique in that it is the only public, tuition-free ski and snowboard academy in the country as a part of the Eagle County Schools system. Students must be accepted and enrolled in a full-time snowsport program at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, but SSCV offers financial aid on its athletic programs up to 75 percent. Last year, VSSA recorded the seventh-highest SAT scores among public schools in Colorado. Based out of the picturesque Maloit Park in Minturn, VSSA/SSCV athletes have endless recreational opportunities with on-site cross-country trails and the state-of-the-art Minturn Fitness Center just steps from the academy. In the offseason, athletes enjoy all the amenities of the Vail Valley, events and cultural experiences, in addition to outdoor opportunities, such as a growing cycling program for mountain bikers.
Currently, SSCV is finalizing construction of a new 25,000 square foot clubhouse at the base of Vail Mountain that will provide more space for its 600 athletes, coaches, and staff, as well as a state-of-the-art tuning facility. SSCV is also working towards expansion on the Golden Peak terrain. Currently, installation of a new surface lift and snowmaking infrastructure is in the works, which will double the club’s training space and create a dedicated mogul venue so athletes can get on snow as early as October.
Notable alumni – Lindsey Vonn, Sarah Schleper, Mikaela Shiffrin