As the 2019-20 ski season kicks off, it’s time to consider if a ski academy could be the next step for athletes next season. Ski Racing Media has compiled a comprehensive guide of eastern, western, and international academies that could be your home next winter. As applications begin to open for the following season, this guide is to be used to consider the best academy option for athletes looking to take their skiing to the next level. Below are our top picks in the East and abroad.
Alta Badia Ski Academy
● Ski Area: Alta Badia, Italy
● Academy Location: The base of Alta Badia, Dolomites, Italy
Located in the heart of the Dolomites, the Alta Badia Dolomites International Ski Academy is a high performance multilingual international alpine ski academy in the Italian Alps. The academy caters to U16 and FIS athletes who want to pursue their goals of making a national team or collegiate ski racing. The program offers several different options ranging from fall to the academic year, winter, summer, and the new gap year. International students can choose to come to Italy with their families, or to stay at the academy house under the supervision of resident coaches.
Though Ski Club Ladinia-Alta Badia is a relatively small club, there is a steady history of National, European and World Cup champions. Alta Badia focuses on teamwork, camaraderie, and caring for teammates as fundamental elements for long-term success. On-snow training takes place early morning and early afternoons at Alta Badia Ski Resort. Student-athletes gain access to extensive training off snow including dry-training sessions, mental coaching, ski tuning workshops, meetings with current and former European Cup and World Cup Ski racers who will share their experience and advice.
Immersed in a multicultural society and enjoying all that Italy and the Dolomites has to offer, Alta Badia provides an enriching experience both technically and personally. Student-athletes will attend the multilingual public school where classes are taught in Italian, German, English, French and Latin.
In response to COVID-19, Alta Badia has offered month to month payment options. All personnel are required to wear masks indoors, including gondolas, and have capitalized on fall training in the case that the season comes to a stop.
Apex 2100 International Ski Academy
● Ski Area: Tignes Les Lac, France
● Academy Location: The base of Tignes Les Lac
As an official FIS Development Program Academy Partner, Apex 2100 International Ski Academy provides world-class ski coaching for athletes ages 10 to 19 years old. Dormitories, training facilities, and classrooms are located at the base of the highest ski resort in the French alps, offering ski-in-ski-out access to the classroom and the training venues. Apex French ski club partners include Club des Sport Tignes, Comite De Ski de Savoie, as well as the French National Ski Federation.
For U14 and U16 athletes, Apex operates as a full-time program on a host-school model – meaning athletes can study their home school’s curriculum while staying at the Apex Academy. The Apex FIS Level program is a three year full-time Tignes based program that follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, the only school in France to offer this flexibility to athletes.
Their approach to the student-athlete is unique with the application of a mentor program that pairs each full-time athlete with a mentor that works with them through the highs and lows of the ski season. As an international academy, the academy embodies a global mission that values the exploration of different languages and cultures, and student-athletes are encouraged to challenge themselves across a multitude of disciplines. Apex encourages a culture founded in the values of diversity, respect, pride, responsibility, and unity to create well-rounded student athletes. Apex is working with U.S. athletes to create a program that allows athletes to join from October to April.
In addition to top-notch educational facilities and laboratories, Apex 2100 offers a custom gym designed by the school’s coaches and strength and conditioning professionals, with an in-house physio that can cater to any athlete’s training and recovery needs. Apex is following national guidelines in addition to enforcing social distance and mask mandates.
Burke Mountain Academy
● Ski Areas: Burke Mountain
● Academy Location: East Burke, Vermont
Burke Mountain Academy (BMA) provides passionate ski racers the opportunity to pursue their limitless academic and athletic potential in a community based on trust. BMA has long been a trusted academy for passionate ski racers looking to make it in the long term while simultaneously pursuing academics. Along with academics and athletics, the Burke community is the very core of the school. To be part of a community requires that certain sacrifices are made for the good of all and in turn many rewards are gained. Through both pain and joy, the community shares the complex and difficult tasks of education, athletics, and personal growth.
Students are steps away from the base of their training hill at Burke Mountain. BMA and Burke Mountain have recently partnered to funnel two million in funds toward enhancing their already elite training facilities. Enhancements coming to the academy via these funds include a new high-speed T-bar, snowmaking upgrades, and site work to excavate and widen their primary training venues at Burke Mountain.
In 2019, BMA established it’s E-Team for emerging national team track athletes. The team exists to bring top emerging alpine racing talent in the U.S. and cultivate a “Top Gun” like atmosphere that will accelerate the development for athletes looking to close the gap between the high school, college skiing, and international competition.
BMA is currently operating in a “bubble,” keeping the campus closed and limiting student travel outside campus to mountain biking and hiking with BMA staff. Students and staff are undergoing daily symptom screening as well as frequent COVID-19 testing. All on-campus visits have been canceled until future notice, therefore students will be giving virtual tours and interviews will be conducted online.
Cardigan Mountain School
● Ski Areas: Mount Sunapee, Whaleback
● Academy Location: Canaan, New Hampshire
Cardigan Mountain School is the only school in the country that offers a full academic year boarding program for male only student-athletes in grades six through nine. Alpine athletes have the ability to train five to six days a week with no disruption to their academic schedule. When it comes to academics, Cardigan has “no student left behind” policy. Morally, Cardigan focuses on instilling student-athletes to take ownership of their education while providing opportunities to advance as leaders.
On the athletics side, Cardigan has access to several ski areas near their home base of Canaan New Hampshire, where students can train full-length slalom, giant slalom, and super G. During the school year, students regularly train at Mount Sunapee, which provides excellence hard surface training, and occasionally Whaleback for SL and night training. Cardigan believes in the benefit of multi-sport athletes and all student-athletes play a fall and spring sport in addition to winter skiing.
This school year Cardigan opened “Wallach,” a new 19,000 square foot academic building dedicated to innovative design, applied engineering, and creative arts. The school opened for in-person, on campus learning this year and is closely following guidance from the state and federal authorities to plan its future programs.
Carrabassett Valley Academy
● Ski Area: Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine
● Academy Location: Base of Sugarloaf Mountain
Carrabassett Valley Academy (CVA) aims to foster individual development by providing a balance between the student-lifestyle and athletics. CVA is a private middle and high school at Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine offering a unique balance of college preparatory academics and competitive training. The sole focus of competitive skiing and snowboarding, and rigorous academic classes, are designed to enhance education while tailoring towards individual athletic schedules.
With over 4,000 feet of vertical, 650 acres of backcountry-style glades, one of the only FIS-certified downhill courses in the East, and world-class training at the athlete’s doorstep, Sugarloaf Mountain provides exceptional opportunity to athletes as the largest ski area in the East. The Antigravity complex, which consists of an Olympic quality trampoline and weight room, a skatepark with a bowl, full courts, a climbing wall, and an aerobics room, gives student-athletes the capacity to train in multiple ways, not just on the slopes.
When it comes to their students, CVA focuses on equally developing the body, mind, and spirit. The average class size is 10 students, allowing for each individual to reap the benefits of one-on-one learning from their teachers during their time off the slopes.
New in 2020, CVA expanded programs to include a fall term for 7th graders and 3-week immersion camps for 5th and 6th graders. Student-athletes are currently at school, in-person, full time. CVA has extensive plans in place to mitigate COVID-19 concerns including increased testing, additional cleaning, required social distancing, and new outdoor format for all-school meetings.
Green Mountain Valley School
● Ski Areas: Sugarbush Resort, Vermont
● Academy Location: Waitsfield, Vermont
Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS) strives to create an environment in which students can become well-rounded scholars, athletes, and citizens who value discipline, responsibility, respect, independent initiative, as well as total commitment and effort. What sets GMVS apart from other academies is its integrated ski and academic structure, individual college preparation, and 30,000-square-foot on-campus training facility that this year includes an on campus ski treadmill. With a highly coordinated effort between teachers, and coaches, supported by the right tools to maintain connectivity, students are set up for success whether they are on campus in person or traveling across the world for a race series in Europe.
Located at the base of Sugarbush’s Mt. Ellen, the Kelly Brush Race Arena now offers athletes three dedicated and FIS homologated training trails with two private surface lifts and a chairlift to allow for continuous training on a variety of terrain. Inverness and Brambles have been connected to provide students with a more challenging GS and Super G training and race venue. New this year, the Poma has been replaced with a T-bar that cuts ride time in half, providing opportunities for more time on snow, and increased breadth of training opportunities at any one time on snow. In addition, the KBRA has warming buildings at the top and mid-run with a clubhouse at the base.
GMVS opened in an innovative hybrid model where students attend classes in person four days a week, and 1 day remote. Boarding students will not be allowed off campus, and the school will conduct daily screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, temperature checks, and weekly COVID testing of students and staff. Coaches are planning for early season on-snow training that would entail traveling in small pods, similar to trips that occurred early this fall, and bringing on-campus protocols, including testing, on the road. Sugarbush has committed to having our training and race venue ready to go on schedule, and GMVS will be able to host races.
● Ski Areas: Cannon Mountain and Mittersill, in Franconia, New Hampshire
● Academy Location: Plymouth, New Hampshire
Holderness School believes that learning should richly engage and challenge students, supporting them and offering them an intellectual environment in which they can grow and thrive. Holderness creates a caring and motivating environment for student-athletes to be successful individuals and team members on and off the hill. Balancing the academic and athletic goals of student-athletes has always been a trademark of Holderness. Academically, Holderness offers over 100 different course options, including AP and experiential learning opportunities. Their classrooms encourage students to graduate with a sense of curiosity, intellectual grit, and joy.
Holderness USSA/FIS ski programs train at Mittersill Slopes at Cannon Mountain, an official U.S. Ski & Snowboard training site located in Franconia, New Hampshire. The US Ski Team venue at Mittersill is Holderness School’s home training site for the Eastern Alpine USSA/FIS programs. Homologated SL, GS, and SG venues provide for a variety of course setting options and discipline-specific training serviced by surface and aerial lifts. The Mittersill Performance Center, a 9,200-square-foot state-of-the-art facility to support athletes, coaches, and spectators, is expected to be completed in April 2021.
Holderness School has launched a Gap Year Program that allows athletes to use Holderness facilities and participate in elements of the school’s programming while focusing their efforts on competition and skills development in preparation for skiing at the collegiate level.
Holderness School has gone to great lengths to ensure a safe and healthy in-person, on-campus school year. All community members complete daily health screenings, wear masks, and maintain social distance.
Killington Mountain School
● Ski Area: Killington Mountain
● Location: Killington, Vermont
Killington Mountain School (KMS) combines rigorous, college-preparatory academics with world-class athletic training in a personalized setting. KMS’s mission is for its students to learn to balance their responsibilities in a diverse environment that includes competition and world travel. A highly individualized program, supported by teachers and coaches that work together to support at-home and distance learning, gives students the chance to excel in athletics and academics. KMS considers itself to be a community, united by shared passions and competitive spirit.
Athletically, the focus is to train the whole athlete – mind, body, and spirit. Student’s athletics play just as an important role of the academy experience as the academics. KMS’s top priority is to build a lifelong passion for sport and recognizing the importance of goal setting and teamwork. Athletes also have access to world-class training facilities and are supported by science-based strength and conditioning programs. In particular, KMS’s home base of Killington Mountain is home to the Audi FIS World Cup women’s slalom and giant slalom, the largest stop on the women’s tour.
KMS is following all local and state guidelines for programs on and off the hill.
Mt. Mansfield Ski Club & Academy
● Ski Area: Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
● Academy Location: Stowe, Vermont
Mt. Mansfield Ski Club & Academy (MMSCA) believes in an individualized approach in order to best serve each student-athlete and help them to realize their full potential. This approach gives MMSCA student-athletes the chance to take courses such as AP level courses that are not offered at most ski academies. In 2020, MMSCA is opening a year-round academy program in addition to its already existing winter term program. The new full-time program looks to maintain the same level of high competition and academic rigor, while further building out the athlete and their potential in a year-round individualized setting.
MMSCA programs are designed to provide student athletes with a stimulating and enjoyable opportunity to reach their potential as competitors, and most importantly, to instill a lifelong love of the sport. Part of the athlete’s success comes from the school’s world-class training facilities at Stowe Mountain Resort. Athletes have access to three homologate race and training venues, including Main Street which is known for its challenge, premium surface, and top safety measures. At the base of a high-speed lift that services racing and training venues is a 12,000-square-foot clubhouse that includes an athlete locker room and full-service ski tuning facility staffed by professional technicians. The academy is where athletes can find MMSCA’s 9,000 square-foot fitness facility.
MMSCA opened a new Academic Building and new gym for student athletes. The Academic Building expands the existing campus and includes a design and technology studio. MMSCA continues to follow recommendations and requirements per the Vermont State Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Vermont Department of Health for COVID-19.
National Ski Academy
● Ski Areas: Blue Mountain Resort, Mont Edouard
● Academy Location: Collingwood, Ontario, Canada
As Canada’s only full-time ski academy, just two hours north of Toronto, is Collingwood National Ski Academy (NSA). NSA has become the spot for Canadians that want an immersive student-athlete experience to learn and train. NSA provides 21st century learning skills that serve student athletes through all their interests, passions and talents.
While in Collingwood, athletes train daily at Blue Mountain Resort where they have access to dedicated lane space as well as to the facilities at the Toronto Ski Club. Regular training also takes place at five private ski clubs within a 20 minute drive, offering ample on-snow time. Outside of scheduled dry land sessions our athletes are able to take advantage of amazing access to local hiking, mountain and road biking as well as swimming and paddle boarding in Georgian Bay.
Over the summer the NSA staff worked tirelessly to make sure that Tornaveen, the academy heritage home, was ready with a fresh coat of paint, new sanitizing procedures, hand washing stations, and setting dining and gym protocols in place. Classrooms and the gym have been arranged with physical distancing in mind so that day and boarding students, along with their teachers and coaches, are able to study and workout safely. The NSA’s small size and dedicated staff allow the flexibility to pivot in these uncertain times. NSA continues to work with ski resorts to access the best snow conditions for training.
Northwood / New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF)
● Ski Area: Whiteface Mountain, New York
● Academy Location: Lake Placid, New York
New York Ski Education Foundation’s (NYSEF) allows aspiring student-athletes the opportunity to pursue their athletics at an advanced level while continuing remotely in their home school’s academic curricula, providing an avenue to excel academically and athletically. NYSEF’s premier program is its Winter Term, which allows student-athletes to pursue their athletics at an advanced level while continuing remotely in their home school’s academic curriculum. Expenses are kept at cost so student-athletes and their families can afford high-level coaching and premiere education tutors, competing at a world-class level without the burden of extreme expenses.
Athletes train at Whiteface Mountain. Due to Lake Placid’s Olympic training venues, NYSEF athletes have the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from their role-models on a regular basis. In addition to receiving exceptional training and coaching in the Adirondacks, students are well incorporated into the community during their time with NYSEF, giving them a well-rounded, experiential education.
Just minutes from Whiteface Mountain and in the heart of Lake Placid’s Olympic Village, sits Northwood School. As a coeducational, independent boarding school, Northwood provides support for dedicated winter athletes from ninth grade to post-graduate. Northwood stands out in their ability to offer students a challenging and progressive curriculum while having the opportunity to train and ski race at the very highest level. Northwood offers a number of unique, signature academic programs in addition to our rigorous college prep curriculum as well as having a comprehensive, multi-year, college guidance program which helps to ensure all students have a broad range of options and opportunities after graduation. The school has expanded the curriculum this year to include an Advanced Math and Science Research Seminar, a multi-disciplined Humanities Course, additional courses in the STEM and STEAM departments.
NYSEF will have a strict return to snow protocol in place which will continue to develop as the world changes. All students were required to arrive on campus with a negative COVID test that was no older than 72 hours. Following a two week quarantine period and additional testing, in-person classes began with all students and faculty masked and socially distanced. Northwood has implemented a Medical Board of Directors composed of outside doctors and medical professionals who guide and approve all decisions made related to the health and safety of the individuals within our community.
Okemo Mountain School
● Ski Area: Okemo Mountain
● Academy Location: Ludlow, Vermont (less than five minutes from the mountain)
Okemo Mountain School (OMS) remains entirely focused on meeting the needs of winter term participants. Being a winter term academy allows student-athletes to not only excel in snow sports, but remain well-rounded four-season athletes. A low coach to athlete ratio allows for much individualized attention during on-hill and off-hill training sessions.
OMS’ home training venue is just five minutes away from the school in Ludlow, Vermont at Okemo Mountain. Their dedicated training hill, called Wardance, is serviced by a triple lift, providing our student-athletes the opportunity for productive training sessions with little time spent waiting in line or riding lifts. Okemo Mountain also generously provides OMS with other trails whenever needed, such as for full length SG training or simply a variety of terrain, as well as custom grooming requests to build specific terrain and keep the surface racer-ready. Off-snow fitness facilities include new lifting and training equipment, as well as a yoga and recovery room, locker rooms, and a ground trampoline with a spotting belt.
OMS is changing daily schedules to promote social distancing in the academic building and fitness facility, which involves a hybrid model of in-person/remote academic classes. These changes will result in more time on-snow for student-athletes. Student-athletes, faculty, and staff will wear masks at all times indoors, in school vehicles, and outdoors when not socially distanced.
Stratton Mountain School
● Ski Area: Stratton Mountain Resort
● Academy Location: Stratton Mountain
Stratton Mountain School (SMS) was recently recognized as the 2020 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Overall Club of the Year. SMS provides a unique environment that offers each student the opportunity to pursue excellence in competitive winter sports and college preparatory academics while developing strong personal values.
SMS students learn to use their time efficiently and effectively as they navigate their individual academic and athletic goals. Courses are carefully scheduled in order for each student to succeed as a scholar while pursuing their goals outside of the classroom. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, SMS’s curriculum was structured to maximize distance learning as needed. Using tools like Google Classroom and Zoom, SMS teachers provide structured and individualized support for students in the midst of travel, training, and competition. The College Guidance Department works closely with each student-athlete in order to assure options for the future that will lead to continued success for graduates as they move forward with their educational, athletic, and personal goals.
Stratton Mountain School has created an environment that equips student-athletes with the tools to achieve their goals. Located at the base of Stratton Mountain, SMS spends the majority of on-snow training steps away from the dormitories. The coaching staff works closely with their counterparts at Stratton to ensure that our dedicated training runs are maintained and utilizes the most current technical information and tools in addition to video feedback on technique and biomechanics. Coaches focus on building and maintaining a pathway from the youngest athlete to the Olympians, creating an environment that allows student-athletes to understand and take ownership of the processes that facilitate improvement and success.
SMS is approaching the 50th anniversary of our founding, and with preparedness and perseverance to reopen this year, SMS welcomed the largest student body in history. The appointed SMS COVID-19 Task Force put in hundreds of hours over the summer to generate new protocols that limit the exposure to the virus while also allowing open campus classrooms, training facilities, and dormitories.
● Ski Area: Proctor Ski Area and Ragged Mountain
● Academy Location: Andover, New Hampshire
At Proctor, students do not have to choose between elite skiing and pursuing academic passions. Proctor’s unique academic curriculum is founded in the belief that academic challenge, overt support systems, and a preference for hands-on, experiential modes of teaching creates enduring learning for students. While at most schools the individual must conform to a set of systems, at Proctor the school grows around each student’s academic interests. Whether students want to pursue academics, performing arts, mountain biking, lacrosse, basketball, etc., students have the opportunity to do so without compromising time on snow.
Health and wellness is also a part of the curriculum, which gives students to not only learn about their physical well-being, but also their mental health, nutrition, and sleep, so student-athletes are well-equipped to take care of themselves throughout their academic and athletic careers. 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 Ski Area is a privately owned FIS homologated alpine and nordic ski area, located within walking distance of campus. The Ski Area has full snowmaking and lighting on its trails. Proctor also has a dedicated training space at nearby Ragged Mountain. Over 50% of all Proctor students spend their winter afternoons on snow. A new Outdoor Center was introduced in 2020 to encourage students to get out and explore off the hill which features a rock climbing wall, tuning facilities, and storage for athletes gear.
Proctor created a COVID-19 task force that collaborates with staff and faculty across all departments. Proctor plans to host in-person education and should the local or national situation evolve, Proctor will adapt. Proctor’s protocol includes daily self-screening checks, personal hygiene practices including hand washing before entering group settings, and partnering with Proctor’s Housekeeping Team to keep high traffic areas sanitized.
Waterville Valley Academy
● Ski Area: Waterville Valley Resort
● Academy Location: Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
Waterville Valley Academy (WVA) is operated under Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers Snowsports Educational Foundation (WVBBTS), a non-profit education foundation that also operates a ski club outside of the academy level. Waterville Valley Academy was founded for aspiring student-athletes in grades 6 through 12 who are dedicated to pursuing the highest level of snowsports performance along with a rigorous accredited academic program that offers twelve AP courses. With a maximum of ten students per class, small size gives WVA the ability to pivot to online learning quickly and adjust schedules as needed to accommodate travel for training, competitions, or races. Each athlete is supported with personalized programs based on their individual athletic and academic goals.
WVBBTS has signed a five-year contract with Waterville Valley Resort to access training and competition venues for all snowsports including alpine venues. The agreement allows for snowmaking and surface preparation to be catered to the athletes and their coaches, allowing for longer seasons and more ideal surfaces.
WVA has been working closely with the town on all reopening plans. COVID-19 protocols include outside academic spaces, daily cleaning of all buildings, and small class sizes limited to 10 students.