Sugar Bowl Academy (SBA) is excited to announce the launch of an innovative new mental training program designed in collaboration with Dr. Jim Taylor, a noted ski racing psychologist. Head of School, Ryan Aldrich, believes that the unique program will offer SBA’s student- athletes another powerful tool in their competitive skiing toolbox.

“The psychological and emotional development of our student-athletes is a central value for SBA, and this program will extend well beyond helping them to achieve their skiing goals,” says Aldrich.


The overarching objective of the mental training program is to educate SBA student-athletes about the impact that the mind has on their athletic, academic, and personal development and to give them strategies to maximize the three areas.

“What makes the program special is that mental training is being treated the same way as conditioning and on-snow training,” Dr. Taylor says. “Mental training is being fully integrated into SBA’s athletic programs, academic curriculum, and community culture with time, energy, and resources devoted to it.”

There are several aspects of the program that make it unique. First, it’s structured and consistent, with time dedicated each week to a different psychological theme. Second, it’s periodized, meaning that the themes are relevant to the time of year leading up to the competitive season, just like conditioning and technical progressions. Third, it will include regular mental training on snow where the skiers can connect mental training directly with their skiing. Finally, it will involve the faculty and school where the weekly themes will be integrated into academic classes and community activities.

“This initiative isn’t just about helping our skiers find success on the mountain, but rather embracing the whole person,” states John Horsch, Executive Director of Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy. “We see our approach at SBA as one of human development and performance.”

Originating from lengthy discussions between Eric Harlow, SBA’s Director of Alpine Programs, and Dr. Taylor, the mental training program involves a collective effort by all staff and is aimed at supporting all three of SBA’s disciplines—alpine, Nordic, and freeride.

“This program is a huge step forward in giving mental training the attention it deserves,” says Harlow. “Our goal is to make mental training just like conditioning, on-snow training, and academics; that is, simply a part of what we do to develop outstanding athletes, exceptional students, and great people.”

Release courtesy of Sugar Bowl Academy.