Burke Mountain Academy (BMA) celebrated the grand opening of the Ronnie Berlack Center (RBC) – a $2.8 million, 15,000 square foot, state of the art indoor athletic facility – this past weekend, marking a new era for the athletic development of Burke student-athletes and ski racers around the country. BMA also announced a comprehensive new partnership with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) for year-round training and development of elite ski racers from around the Eastern region and around the U.S.
The RBC will be home to BMA’s recently launched high performance initiative featuring a sport science, research and technology-driven approach to strength and conditioning, sports psychology, sports medicine, nutrition, athletic movement, injury rehabilitation and coaches development and education.
Luke Bodensteiner, executive vice president, athletics for USSA, was on hand for Saturday’s dedication of the RBC and to officially name BMA’s Ronnie Berlack Center as a U.S. Ski Team High Performance Center and BMA’s on-hill training venue at Burke Mountain as a U.S. Ski Team Development Site, which are the first of what Bodensteiner hopes will be many such centers around the country.
As a U.S. Ski Team High Performance Center, Burke will collaborate with the USSA’s Park City-based Center of Excellence and other future high performance centers to share best practices in sport science and sports medicine and serve as a site to host training and education sessions for USSA clubs in the region. As U.S. Ski Team Development Site, Burke will provide training days on its mountain for regional and national development projects, as well as access for U.S. Ski Team athletes.
“The Ronnie Berlack Center is a wonderful way to remember Ronnie for future generations. At the same time, it will become a center to not only serve Burke athletes, but others across the Eastern region as a U.S. Ski Team High Performance Center,” said USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “The relationship with Burke Mountain Academy, both at its alpine training venue on Burke Mountain and at the new Ronnie Berlack High Performance Center, is part of our vision to partner with leading clubs and programs around the country, not only to provide world class training opportunities for the U.S. Ski Team, but also to bring U.S. Ski Team knowledge and programming to the regions through our partners with the goal of building the best athletic development pipeline in the world.”
“The RBC is a dream come true and, together with the new USSA partnership, marks an exciting new chapter in BMA’s 46-year history,” said Jory Macomber, BMA’s head of school and alumnus from the class of 1980. “BMA has always been known for pushing the boundaries in the realm of athletic preparation. This legacy and the new facility infrastructure with the Ronnie Berlack Center and the on-going on-hill improvements affords us the opportunity to give back to other athletes as a U.S. Ski Team High Performance Center and U.S. Ski Team Development Site. We’ll work closely with the USSA and collaborate broadly with all clubs and programs in the region and around the country to develop and share best practices and to support Tiger’s vision of collaboration as a means to strengthening our country’s ski racing development pipeline.”
The RBC and improved mountain racing venue at Burke will be easily accessible to skiers throughout the East, which includes over half the USSA’s more than 35,000 members. These skiers, along with national team athletes, will be able to train at Burke Mountain and use the RBC in conjunction with their clubs through rental agreements with BMA and Burke Mountain. Burke Mountain resort is participating in the initiative with attractive ski ticket and accommodation packages at its brand new slope side Burke Mountain Hotel Resort & Conference Center, aimed at making Burke Mountain the destination ski resort for alpine ski racers.
Steve Berlack, BMA’s men’s U16 coach and development leader for the project, whose son – former U.S. Ski Team member Ronnie Berlack – the RBC was named after posthumously added, “Cindy and I are thrilled that Ronnie’s relentless drive for excellence is being honored through this incredible facility and partnership with the U.S. Ski Team. Ronnie would be so proud of what we’ve achieved in less than two years.”
BMA attained the required $2.8 million funding for the building’s conception, construction and short term operational expense coverage over a nine-month silent campaign. A second fundraising phase was recently launched to create a $6 million endowment fund to support the ongoing development and implementation of high performance programming including the hiring of expert staff and the purchase of sophisticated training, rehab and testing equipment.
“This project would not have been possible without the significant contributions of highly engaged and dedicated BMA students, parents, alumni and donors,” shared Willy Booker, chairman of BMA’s board of trustees and alumnus from the class of 1996. “We’re eager to keep the momentum going with the next phase of fundraising to ensure this project produces major value for the entire ski community.”
Release from Burke Mountain Academy