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 our academies that offer a winter term option highlighted in our yearly survey.
If you or your athlete are more interested in a traditional academy, click here.
FULL-YEAR ACADEMIES WITH WINTER TERM OPTIONS
Alta Badia Dolomites Ski Academy
La Villa in Badia, South Tirol, Italy
Located in the heart of the Dolomites, Alta Badia Dolomites Ski Academy is high performance, multilingual academy nestled in the heart of the Italian Alps, catering to U16 and FIS athletes. Since 1946, Alta Badia Ski Team has steadily fed athlete’s into competition at the National, European, and World Cup levels by remaining a small and competitive club, in order to better serve their athletes. With 16 different training venues– in addition to proximity to Italian and Austrian glaciers – Alta Badia Ski Team offers the most diverse training opportunities with various environments and terrain scenarios, so that athletes can develop at an accelerated rate. The student-athlete status at school allows for a flexible academic schedule for best on-snow training. Off-snow training is after school. In addition to top-notch, competitive training, the academy’s immersion in a multicultural society allows athletes to not only become better skiers and racers but also multilingual, open-minded, speakers and people.
Carrabassett Valley Academy
Carrabassett Valley, Maine
The Carrabassett Valley Academy (CVA) calls Sugarloaf Mountain home, which has the largest vertical drop of any ski area East of the Rockies and offers a multitude of terrain for athlete’s to train on. CVA also has access to Sugarloaf’s “Narrow Gauge”, the only FIS-certified downhill course in the East, and has recently been named a U.S. Ski & Snowboard High Performance Center. In addition, the academy is home to a state of the art Antigravity Complex, the only training facility of its kind in New England. Academically, CVA makes use of individualized instruction that allows students with various learning styles to achieve academic success while on the road in competition season. The only non-competitive program offered at the school is the backcountry program, that gives students the opportunity to learn mountain skills that will help them safely navigate throughout the backcountry with avalanche safety and wilderness medicine skills in their back pocket.
Notable Alumni – Bode Miller, Kiersten Clark, Sam Morse
Just six miles from Sunday River resort, Gould Academy consistently places athletes in collegiate ski programs every year. An extensive list of Advanced Placement course offerings allows students the opportunity to challenge themselves on and off the hill. Small class sizes, the use of Blended Learning programs, and a technology center (equipped with 3-D printers, a laser cutter, a large format printer, and a fabrication studio) allows different kinds of students to succeed and explore passions outside of ski racing. A focus on experiential learning, with multiple outdoor leadership trips and opportunities to travel aboard, give students the opportunity to broaden their horizons.
Gould Academy is currently working on building a new surface lift for the 2019-2020 competition season, that will decrease time spent on the lift during training by 40 percent. This is also the second year of the new Gap Year Program, which is designed to further develop college-accepted athletes that aspire to earn spots on highly competitive collegiate teams and/or National teams. Three off-season, on-snow training camps in France, Chile/Argentina, and a third location in Europe allow athletes to continue to develop skills as much as possible before entering the next level.
Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS)
Green Mountain Valley School is focused on enhancing the whole athlete, with an integrated nutrition program, on-campus therapy, and sports psychology support that pushes students to the next level with confidence. Small class sizes offer rigorous college prep off the hill, with a staff and faculty focused on encouraging students to embrace a life-long love of learning and adventure. Outside of GMVS’ robust racing program, the academy boasts a musical theatre program, lacrosse and soccer teams consistently ranked among the top in the state, a competitive mountain bike team, and so many other opportunities to experience the world outside of skiing.
A recent expansion of the new race trail, Inverness, provides an opportunity to train on a consistent and straight pitch, so athletes can focus on developing technical and tactical skills. In the future, GMVS will expand upon the new venue with a top-to-bottom T-Bar, expanded snowmaking, renovations to the ski club building, and on-snow event infrastructure.
GMVS’ well-rounded strategy works. Just this season, five athletes from three different countries competed at Alpine World Juniors (including Ben Ritchie, who earned a silver medal in the slalom). Nearly 50 alumni have raced at the collegiate level and have recently earned World Cup starts.
Park City, Utah
Groundswell combines ski racing and business ownership education and experience. By focusing on personal growth and development, athletes can pursue their passion while honing their business skills and preparing for life outside of ski racing. For example, athlete Sam Dupratt scored World Cup points in the Kitzbuehel super-G in the 2018/19 season while simultaneously managing the implementation of GroundSwell’s business building frameworks in a portfolio company that he has built a partnership with. Talk about building a well-rounded athlete that’s ready to succeed on a professional level in more ways than one! In addition, GroundSwell offers access to an online business school that is separate from the athletics department that is open to anyone 17 years or older. Athletes such as Brian McLaughlin and Tommy Ford have taken advantage of the opportunity to gather the tools to be successful in the business and financial world while racing on the World Cup.
Killington Mountain School (KMS)
Killington Mountain School calls Killington Resort home, the largest resort in Eastern North America and the home of the only women’s World Cup race hosted in the United States. Athlete’s have access to four fully homologated racing hills, including a super-G hill. Combining rigorous, STEM-based academia from a State-of-Vermont-approved secondary school with a world-class athletic training in a personalized setting, allows KMS to continuously produce athletes that compete at top-tier NCAA schools, as well as Olympians and World Cup starters. KMS emphasizes respect, integrity, leadership, excellence, and responsibility to create student-athletes that are well prepared for life beyond KMS.
Northwood School and New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF)
Lake Placid, New York
Located in the heart of Lake Placid, home to the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) and the Northwood School has taken one of the original U.S. Ski & Snowboard certified Gold Clubs and made it into a successful part-time or full-time program. The Northwood school offers a nine-month academic and training program as an independent boarding and day school, whereas NYSEF offers anywhere from one to four month terms from December to March, giving younger athlete’s the opportunity to see the demands and rewards of joining a full-time boarding school program.
Notable Alumni – Andrew Weibrecht, Thomas Vonn, AJ Kitt, Tommy Biesemeyer, Trix Leaver (on this year’s Canadian WJC team)
Stratton Mountain School
Stratton Mountain, Vermont
Stratton Mountain School (SMS) teaches student-athletes to demand excellence of themselves both in and out of the classroom. The SMS alpine program is a 12-month program of dry-land preparation, on-snow training, and competition in companionship with a college-preparatory curriculum. Top-level athletes represent SMS at international and national competitions in season, such as World Junior Championships, NorAms, and U.S. Nationals. In the off-season Stratton Mountain School offers competitive programs in other sports such as soccer, mountain biking, lacrosse, tennis, and cross country.
In addition to their year-round program, SMS offers multiple development camps to provide an opportunity for non-SMS students to gain exposure to their programs and access to academy coaching and training, both in season and in the summer. Camps are open to any racer and are scheduled throughout the year. In 2019, a new program will enter SMS’ repertoire. The High Performance Adventure Camp, focused on educational conditioning and dry-land training, is open to U12-14 athletes.
Notable Alumni – Nick Krause, Alice Merryweather
Sugar Bowl Academy
Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy is a supportive and inclusive community with a team-oriented atmosphere. Because each athlete has different needs, Sugar Bowl Academy focuses on serving those needs both on and off snow. The private Van Ruiten Race arena is accessed by a high-speed quad and is outfitted with a cutting-edge watering and snowmaking system to ensure firm conditions even after a classic Sierra storm. While focus on delivering rigorous college prep is huge at Sugarbowl Academy, offering high-quality skiing experiences and training opportunities to athletes of all ages are of the utmost importance. Students can take the classroom on the road during competition season with full support of their teachers due to a curriculum that makes an easy transition into the online space. Coaches and staff encourage a relationship that helps students come up with a program that works best for them and their families. Sugar Bowl Academy’s year-round program offers multiple opportunities to advance as an athlete. By emphasizing strength and conditioning in the off-season, as well as offering camps locally in the Tahoe and Mammoth region and abroad in Chile, New Zealand, and Europe, students can take advantage of multiple opportunities to get up to 60 days on-snow before the ski racing season even begins.
Notable Alumni – Mark Engel, Alice Robinson
Waterville Valley Academy
Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
The WVA offers both a winter-term and full-term program to cater to multiple kinds of athletes. For students placed in a full-term program, WVA is the only snowsports academy in the East that offers Advanced Placement courses, emphasizing their drive to be academically competitive. For winter-term students, WVA integrates each student’s home school curriculum with his or her athletic training and competition schedule. In the summer, student-athletes are run through ACT and SAT prep courses while participating in summer conditioning. Quite literally the town at the end of the road, Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, provides a unique East Coast environment that feels more remote and emphasizes a sense of community.
As a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Gold Certified club, WVA’s students’ athletic success is of top priority. Their unique program utilizes the Burdenko Method of training, conditioning, and recovery by integrating six qualities of human performance into their program – balance, flexibility, coordination, endurance, speed, and strength. In the winter, Waterville Valley Resort is home for on-snow training. The White Mountain Athletic center is available for pool workouts. The Thomas Barbeau Training center has unique facilities for all sports programs, including alpine.
New this year, WVA is adding a middle school specific program, where younger athletes can take advantage of a top-level ski academy experience for five months.
WINTER TERM ONLY
Mt. Hood Race Team & Academy
Government Camp, Oregon
The Mt. Hood Race Team and Academy (MHRTA) offers a unique, online schooling program that allows students to travel as needed and keep up their academics at a pace that is suitable for them. This allows athletes to focus on their sport and their academics when their schedule allows for each. Ski racing full-time is a demanding and challenging endeavor, and allowing students to keep their head in the game, knowing their school work can be dealt with during a non-race week, gives developing athlete’s a better chance to succeed in both arenas. MHRTA’s small program stems from humble roots, creating an environment with character that focuses on the needs of each student athlete in terms of academics, strength and conditioning, and training. It’s an added bonus that Mt. Hood is a training hub in the summer where skiing on Palmer Glacier is still a possibility, allowing for nine months of on-snow training. Not to mention Government Camp is home of the famous “Huck Shake.”
Okemo Mountain School
At Okemo Mountain School, each student’s curriculum is facilitated on an individual level from his or her sending school, rather than assimilating students into one common curriculum. This way, athletes stay in sync with their classmates and can have the benefit of a seamless transition between winter terms and the rest of the school year. Being a winter term only academy allows student-athletes to not only excel in snow sports, but remain well-rounded four-season athletes that are connected to their home communities. Training occurs on Okemo Mountain resort, just minutes from the school building, with access to a dedicated trail serviced by a triple lift so athletes can get as much out of their training as possible. A dry-land facility is located next to the school building to give athlete’s easy access to strength and conditioning equipment, and even an on-ground trampoline.
Notable Alumni – Julia Ford
Mt. Mansfield Winter Academy
Mt. Mansfield Winter Academy’s close working relationship with Stowe Mountain Resort is key to its draw, as well as its one-on-one academic program. The student body maxes out at approximately 45 students, creating a family-like atmosphere on campus that emphasizes student to teacher and athlete to coach relationships. In Spring of 2019, Mt. Mansfield is breaking ground on a new 9,000 square foot building that will house additional classrooms, offices, a student ski tuning area, and a sports medicine facility. Combined with the athletic center (new as of 2017) and other additions being made to campus, the larger campus redesign is coming in 2020.
Notable alumni – Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Robby Kelley