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 is the best of the west.
Lake Tahoe Preparatory School
- Ski Area: Squaw Valley
- Academy Location: Base of Squaw Valley Ski Area
The Lake Tahoe Prep and Squaw Valley Ski Team understands that each athlete is an individual with their own genetics unique to themselves, and focuses on a holistic approach in meeting each student’s unique needs and offers support for meeting their personal goals. The Lake Tahoe Prep and Squaw Valley Ski Team strive to impact and better the lives of student-athletes by giving young athletes skills for a driven, educated future. Students are instilled with knowledge to be successful, empowered to create stronger performance, and inspired to be self-motivated on and off the hill.
Lake Tahoe Prep student-athletes participate in individualized conditioning and performance training at Squaw Valley with a full time Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist to reduce the risk of injury while maximizing skill development and performance. Throughout the season each Student-athlete’s training schedule will be customized to maximize academic and athletic potential within an environment that fosters team support and deliberate practice. With the seventeen training venues on hill at Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe Prep and Squaw Valley Ski Team offer diverse training and the benefit from appropriate and challenging practice environments throughout the season. Daily training sessions combine on-snow training, conditioning, recovery programs, ski tuning, and sports psychology training.
In the summer of 2019, the entire campus was remodeled and renovated. All dormitories, student rooms, classrooms, common areas, and the dining hall were completely updated and redecorated. In 2021 students can look forward to the new construction of a new campus gymnasium.
Upon arrival for the 2020-2021 school year, students and staff members will be tested for COVID-19. In addition, LTP will require daily temperature checks, will provide all students and staff PPE, and will sanitize campus rooms with disinfectant twice a day.
Winter Sports School
- Academy Location: Park City, UT
The Winter Sports School (WSS) of Park City, Utah is a public tuition-free charter school for Utah residents and a tuition-driven institution for out-of-state students. WSS is in the 2nd year of offering an Elite Athlete FLEX Program available for both UT resident students and out-of-state tuition paying students who meet sport achievement eligibility requirements. This program offers an individualized combination of on-campus, face-to-face classes and fully online self-paced coursework facilitated by staff and online learning coordinator.
A unique April to November academic calendar provides the balance and support student-athletes need to focus on academics when in school for seven months and on their chosen sports when the season is in session. Student-athletes from around the country who choose to continue training and competing in season with their home sports clubs can also be accommodated into the Winter Sports School’s programs. WSS stands out for local and national student-athletes looking to compete with any sport club of their choosing since the school itself does not offer sports training or coaching. The Winter Sports School unique setting amid the world-class Olympic venues of Park City allows support to student-athletes in all Olympic and Paralympic sports.
WWS implemented a hybrid model that follows regular daily and weekly live classes with online lessons via CANVAS and Zoom. For students who choose to attend in person classes, physical distancing and masks are required inside at all times. Students who prefer learning from home can choose to do so and attend live interactive classroom meetings via Zoom.
Alpine Race Academy at Loveland
● Ski Area: Loveland Ski Area
● Academy Location: Base of Loveland Ski Area
The Alpine Race Academy at Loveland Ski Club is an intensive, year-round program designed for the highest level of athletic and personal development of U12 to FIS level athletes. With the goal of five athletes per coach, the staff is able to provide each athlete individualized attention to cater to their individual needs. In addition, each training group is capped at two coaches and ten athletes to ensure each athlete gets the attention they need. Each Academy athlete’s skis are tuned at a national team level on a daily basis by the Academy’s in-house serviceman, who also travels to all critical races with the staff and athletes to ensure racers always bring their best to the hill. Academy staff are on the leading edge of technology by utilizing extensive video feedback and hiring a new strength and conditioning coach who focuses on both movement patterns and weighted environments for athletes. The summer portion of the program focuses on excursions, such as camps in Europe and New Zealand.
Alpine Race Academy’s partnership with Loveland Ski area allows for athletes and staff to have access to dedicated four-event training and race venues that have become a benchmark for exceptional grooming and surface preparation in Colorado. Loveland often opens in early October and closes mid-late June, meaning there is ample amount of time within the year for World-class athletes to get consistent surface, convenient access, and a private training environment. The partnership has also identified significant space adjacent to the team’s clubhouse that will be used to erect an individualized tent city to limit athletes from the opportunity for any disease exposure or transmission.
For academics, Alpine Race Academy partnered with the Laurel Springs school, a leading distance education provider, and hired an Education Liaison who is responsible for helping athletes achieve success in the remote classroom. Each athlete is provided with a list of options that support their individual needs including local schools in Jefferson County/ Evergreen for younger academy athletes requiring flexibility while continuing education in a social environment. Locally, Alpine Race Academy has access to Jefferson County/Evergreen schools that cooperate with their racing program at the academy. Older athletes have the option of studying online through Laurel Springs School programs, offering more flexibility in schedules.
Picabo Street Academy
● Ski Area: Park City Mountain Resort, Utah Olympic Park
● Academy Location: Park City, Utah
Picabo Street Academy provides a unique learning opportunity for students who are looking for a flexible but structured approach to their schooling. By operating on a year-round rolling enrollment program, athletes and their families have the ultimate flexibility in developing their pathway.
Each student’s academic goals and scheduling needs are assessed when creating a pathway to enable both academic and athletic success. Personalized school scheduling is built around each student’s training and race plan, so school can be integrated within sport and extra-curricular schedule without compromising quality. Combining a virtual curriculum with a “brick and mortar” classroom provides the ultimate solution to addressing the individual needs of students, as they receive assistance when and where they need it, all year round.
Picabo Street Academy does not offer an athletic component as the academy works with students across a variety of winter and summer sports, including ski racing. However, USST WC speed athlete and Park City Ski Team alum Sam Dupratt has joined the Picabo Street Academy team as an ambassador who embodies the mission of the school by meeting the demands of ski racing at the highest levels without forfeiting his academic goals. Like Sam, PSA students are able to dedicate themselves fully to both academics and sport without compromise.
Team Summit at the Peak School
● Ski Area: Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, or Keystone
● Academy Location: Frisco, Colorado
The Peak School is a private school based in Frisco, Colorado that combines personalized, progressive education with high academic expectations. Faculty understands the increased demands associated with ski racing and offers an intimate community of diverse learners by providing academic support to accommodate athletic travel and competition throughout the calendar year.
The Peak School offers a 6:1 student to faculty ratio in-person and via remote learning methods, including Google classrooms and live streaming. Team Summit athletes and Peak School students also have access to a distinguished Outdoor Education Program, as well as the arts, allowing students to explore a myriad of athletic endeavors.
The student community is built around 10 common principles that shape the values from the classroom to race venues. With six world-class ski areas within 30 miles of campus, including dedicated lane space at a world class racing venue, home of the Copper Tech Center and US Ski Team Speed Center, there is ample opportunity for students to train. A fixed schedule structure minimally impacts training and allows full-time student-athletes more at-home, on-snow training than any program in the country.
The Peak School is educating students in-person 5 days/week during COVID-19 while offering the same level of education to remote learners through live streaming. Team Summit is taking many precautions and is in constant contact with resort partners to continue superb training, including a 3-week Alpine camp at Copper while remaining safe.
Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy (VSSA)
● Ski Area: Vail Ski Resort
● Academy Location: Minturn, Colorado
Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy (VSSA) gives 5th to 12th-grade student-athletes the opportunity to pursue their athletic dreams without compromising their academic priorities. In collaboration with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV), the academy has become the first public ski and snowboard academy in the country.
VSSA offers a variety of advanced placement and dual enrollment college course offerings to pursue academic achievement. A robust in-person classroom experience is supplemented with Schoology, an online learning management system, so traveling athletes can seamlessly access academics on an ongoing basis. Currently, VSSA is utilizing a hybrid model of education to allow for smaller in-person class sizes and increase social distancing each school day. Students are separated into Cohorts and attend two in-person learnings supplemented with three days of remote during the week. SSCV academic coaches are also available during a portion of each day to support remote learning students.
Expanded terrain at SSCV’s on hill training venue at Golden Peak in Vail is less than 15 minutes away from the academy. That means less than 15 minutes to access a brand new surface lift, three new alpine trails equipped with roughly 30 new snowmaking fan guns, equating to 42 new acres of trail space. This doubles alpine training space and provides an additional 600 vertical feet, amounting to more than 1,500 total vertical drop for athletes to hone their skills.
Sugar Bowl Academy
● Ski Area: Sugar Bowl
● Academy Location: Base of Sugar Bowl, Norden, California
Sugar Bowl Academy (SBA) promotes the value of hard work and perseverance. SBA is a community dedicated to providing passionate skiers the opportunity to pursue athletic dreams, academic excellence, and personal growth while celebrating grit, grace, and courage.
Student-athletes experience the best of a small learning environment in the midst of epic ski terrain. During competition season, athletes have access to unique ski-in/ski-out access to 1,500 vertical feet, 1,700 acres and 13 lifts. The Sugar Bowl season experiences over 300 days of sunshine and 500+ inches of snow each year. In addition to supervised access to unrivaled backcountry terrain, student-athletes gain access to a private race arena at Sugar bowl Resort outfitted with a cutting-edge watering system and dedicated snowmaking equipment.
SBA ensures to factor video analysis, physical recovery, and equipment maintenance into the student-athletes schedule in addition to snow training. Summer camps for full-time students aim to have athletes on snow for 60 days prior to the season, which can lead them to other local mountains, national mountains, or aboard. SBA knows one size does not fit all and encourages its student-athletes to create a schedule that works best for them. Small class sizes and a close-knit community enable SBA student-athletes to connect with teachers who push students to make connections between subject matter, the real world, and the environment in which they live and learn.
All student-athletes and staff are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to campus and are required to conduct daily wellness checks. SBA has accommodated classroom space that supports social distancing and enforces all COVID-19 policies, including wearing masks.
Rowmark Ski Academy
● Ski Area: Park City Mountain Resort, Utah Olympic Park, Deer Valley, Snowbird, Alta, Solitude
● Academy Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Rowmark Ski Academy aims to provide world-class skiing with a leading academic program to foster growth and resilience in all student-athletes. As a division of Rowland Hall, Rowmark has offered an unparalleled combination of academics and complete, year-round ski racing program to be the best possible program for athletes to develop as elite ski racers, engaged students, positive role models, and contributing members of society. Romark aims to create a complete student-athlete by ensuring that technique, tactics, physical conditioning, sports psychology, teamwork, and citizenship are emphasized aside from academics and athletics. By limiting student-athlete size to 30, Rowmark ensures the highest quality of individual training and academic focus.
On-snow training occurs primarily at Park City Mountain Resort and at the new Utah Olympic Park. Both locations offer dedicated race arenas with snow-making and surface control for SL, GS, and Super-G training. The UOP alpine venue has been a particular advantage for Rowmark academy and junior program as it doubles training options across two mountains and adds additional terrain and watering opportunities to create the most appropriate and challenging training environments possible. Rowmark sits within 30 minutes of six local world-class ski areas, combined to provide some of the most dynamic training and free-skiing environments in the country.
Rowland Hall is executing a hybrid academic program where half of each grade is on-campus while the other half is in remote learning on a weekly rotation to reduce the daily school population by half. The ski academy team is all scheduled in the same half of the weekly rotation so the team can remain together for daily conditioning workouts whether on-campus or remote.
New to staff, recently retired competitive skier Foreste Peterson joins as a coach for the FIS team. She will act as the academic liaison for the FIS group and work as all academy athletes as the strength and conditioning coach.
Sun Valley Ski Academy at Community School
● Ski Area: Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain, Dollar Mountain
● Academy Location: Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley Ski Academy (SVSA) sits just five minutes from a world-class mountain in the midst of a small town with a big culture. SVSA student-athletes live a well-rounded student life at the Sun Valley Community School, a reputable college preparatory school with a top-in-class Outdoor Program that takes students out into the west, whether it be the Oregon Coast, the Idaho wilderness, or the deserts of Utah. SVSA is the academy for students who love the arts and the outdoors in addition to winter sports.
When it comes to athletics, Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain are home to SVSA’s training venues. Rotarun, SVSA’s private training venue in Hailey, just 15 minutes south of Sun Valley is the program’s newest addition outfitted with new infrastructure including a new snowmaking system. In addition to snow facilities, SVSA has installed a ski simulator at the Rufus M. Brown campus. Both resources positively impact every athlete by broadening training operations outside the core winter season.
SVSA and partner program, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, plans to focus on providing elite-level programming that does not sacrifice connection with athletes. Anticipating limited access to base lodges this season, SVSEF purchased a 30 foot diameter yurt placed at the base of the Greyhawk training venue, allowing a warm and enclosed space for athletes to meet with coaches and analyze video.
Steamboat Mountain School
- Ski Area: Steamboat Springs Ski Resort, Howelsen Hill
- Academy Location: Steamboat Springs, CO
Participating in the Steamboat Mountain School and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC) partnership is demanding and rewarding for the most ambitious student-athletes who want to balance academics with athletic success. Student-athletes have the opportunity to create flexible winter schedules by taking less classes during the winter trimester to accommodate their training and race schedule. Student-athletes work with faculty to manage course credits so athletic pursuits can remain top priority while graduating in four years. At the heart of the school is an outstanding college-preparatory curriculum taught by dedicated faculty members.
Partnership with SSWSC gives access to training at the championship-caliber Stevens Family Alpine Venue located at the Steamboat Ski Resort. SSWSC directs all snowmaking, water injection, and grooming at the venue to ensure a consistent training venue.
Steamboat Mountain School and SSWSC follow all state and local COVID-19 policies including symptom monitoring, limiting group sizes indoors and outdoors, and mandating masks.