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TEAM Academy Class of '13 graduates

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s TEAM Academy celebrated its first year, graduating four seniors from the high school created for national development and elite team skiers and snowboarders. The graduation ceremony was held Saturday at the Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah.

“Today is an historic moment for the USSA,” said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. “We believe that academics and athletics enhance each other — they go hand in hand. We have to have the academic side. It’s more than you learn in books. USSA Team Academy has brought the best athletes here to Park City to be Best in the World. When you bring the best people together it raises the bar not just here but around the country.”

The graduating seniors, who hold a combined 4.15 GPA according to USSA, have all enrolled at Westminster College to continue their education.

“This is a day for us all to be proud,” said Luke Bodensteiner, USSA vice president of athletics. “This school was little more than an idea two years ago. The accomplishments of our students academically and athletically have shaped this program for the student athletes of the future who will follow in their footsteps. With the USSA’s vision to be the best in the world, we have to identify talent earlier and train better than ever before. What these students learned here about values, goals, and commitment will help them when it’s time to lay it all on the line. That’s what makes champions.”

The USSA TEAM Academy was formed in 2012 to provide high school education specifically for national development or elite national team skiers and snowboarders. It serves a total of 27 student athletes at two campuses: one in Lake Placid, N.Y., and one in Park City, Utah.

The average grade earned among all the courses taken by TEAM Academy seniors in the inaugural year was 96.2 percent. With a weighted GPA (advanced placement courses carry a weighted GPA), the four graduating seniors have a combined GPA of 4.15.

In addition to success in the classroom, TEAM Academy athletes earned World Cup and Junior World Freestyle Skiing Championships podiums and numerous top finishes on international circuits.

2013 TEAM Academy graduates

• Alexi Micinski (slopestyle skiing): First, Sierra Nevada World Cup; Second, Junior World Freestyle Skiing Championships; Top 10, FIS World Freestyle Championships; Top 10, AFP overall rankings.

• Jess Breda (slopestyle skiing): Top 10, U.S. Sprint Grand Prix series; Top 10, Copper Mountain World Cup.

• Kiley McKinnon (freestyle aerials): Top Five, Sochi and Bukovel World Cups

• Madison Olsen (freestyle aerials): Top 10, Bukovel, Deer Valley and Lake Placid World Cups

“I didn’t really know this day was going to come for a while until this year,” said Breda. “I’ve been doing online schooling for a while and it was really difficult with the high level of competition. This year was when it became reality that I would be getting a diploma and graduating. It’s amazing and such a big day. I’m so happy that I’m done with high school and moving on to college at Westminster.

“Everyone is so focused and motivated that it’s hard not to be focused and motivated yourself. You’re training next to people that have won Olympic medals, that have so much experience, that are so determined that they’re the best role models. You become the best by training with the best and if you see what the Best in the World are doing, you want to become that and you want to reach that goal.”

Geoff Mintz

Associate Editor

Geoff Mintz is a former alpine ski racer who cut his teeth at Ragged Mountain and Waterville Valley, N.H. After graduating from Holderness and UVM, he relocated to Colorado, where he worked as an instructor at Beaver Creek prior to pursuing a career in journalism. He currently lives in the woods above Vail with his wife, Colleen.

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