The world is not black and white, and neither are the academic options for ski racers in North America. Ski academies originally came to shape as full-time schools that could provide learning options for serious athletes who often had extensive travel and training demands. They were established in the 1970s and 80s to help develop future national team athletes who also needed a high school diploma. In more recent times, however, ski academy models have evolved and expanded to accommodate a much wider range of athletes, academic needs and long-term goals.
Prep schools with competitive ski programs
When you hear the words “prep school,” images of uniforms and ivy-covered brick buildings possibly come to mind. In reality, college preparatory schools are so much more and several across the country enable ski racers to participate in rigorous academics and intense athletic training. The beauty of a prep school lies in its diversity of students and extracurricular offerings, providing ski racers opportunities to participate in additional sports or pursue an interest in arts.
Winter-term only ski academies
Let’s say there’s a ski racer who lives in Manhattan, Boston, or any area in the Northeast that doesn’t want to leave his or her school and friends, but this athlete still wants to take ski racing to the next level. This is one of the many scenarios where winter-only ski academies offer a great solution. Other schools in this category cater more to student-athletes who intend to pursue a rigorous course load at a home school while working towards the dream of becoming NCAA champion skiers. While they are not diploma-awarding institutions, these programs allow dedicated students to maintain their home school education from a distance and focus on skiing while the snow is flying. This is a great option for children who do not want to move away full-time or would like to graduate from their home school.
Transition to traditional
There are some ski academies which until a few years ago were winter-term only programs but have since expanded their offerings to additionally include full-time programs that award diplomas. A school with this kind of hybrid option across all grade levels could be beneficial for a family that wants to keep the kids together in a single school despite varying interests in committing to full-time programs. If you previously thought of Killington and Waterville as only operating during the competition season, it’s time to have a fresh look at these schools.
Traditional ski academies
In addition to the two schools above, these are the places that avid skiers most often associate with the term “ski academy”, and they’re the places many national team athletes call their alma maters. Mikaela Shiffrin, Bode Miller, Breezy Johnson and Drew Duffy are all current U.S. Ski Team members who attended a traditional ski academy. From California to Vermont, these seven academies offer everything from full-time programs for high school students to winter-term only options for younger athletes. While the specifics of their programs might vary slightly, the tradition at these schools to create athletic and academic opportunities for the most committed racers is built into their primary mission.
Although the schools directly above are all private institutions, Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, the first public academy of its kind in the U.S., offers a unique spin on the traditional ski academy by working within the structure of the public school system for competitive athletes in grades 5-12.
Maybe what you’re looking for isn’t so easily defined as a school, but it still provides support to help achieve ski racing goals while enabling academic opportunities.
The Alpine Race Academy at Loveland is one such program, offering resources like an academy serviceman for ski tuning and van service from Denver to all training sessions. There is no integrated academic component, allowing athletes to choose the best personal option, whether that be public, private, online education, or homeschooling.
Standing alone as a post-graduate program, Groundswell Athletics offers a unique opportunity for PG and collegiate ski racers to combine alpine ski racing with a scenario-based education platform. World Cup athlete Megan McJames participates in this program in an effort to ensure a successful career once her competitive ski racing days are over.
Review the entire 2016-17 Academy Directory in full here.
The above-mentioned schools and programs opted to participate in SkiRacing.com’s Academy Advertising Program for 2016-17. For more information on this program, please contact Susie Theis: firstname.lastname@example.org.