Snow school finds permanent home in Minturn |

Snow school finds permanent home in Minturn

Travis Tafoya, Molly McGrew, Kate Cooper and Alex Ramonas hit the books at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, the nation's only public snow sports academy. The academy will take over the Minturn Middle School building. Ski and Snowboard Club Vail will move some of its operations to the site, retaining the clubhouse at Gold Peak for its athletes.


MINTURN, Colorado – The nation’s only public snow sports academy and the club that works with it have a permanent home together.

Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy and Ski and Snowboard Club Vail will share a permanent home at the Minturn Middle School site in Maloit Park, the school board decided. As part of the package the ski club will lease some land with an option to buy, where they hope to build some housing for students from out of the area, coaches and guests. That will open up some space in Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Golden Peak clubhouse for its athletes.

VSSA is the first public sports academy in the U.S.

“It could only happen in a place like this where we have such a rich tradition of excellence in academics and snow sports,” said Aldo Radamus, executive director of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.

The academy been sharing the space with Minturn Middle School. That school is being consolidated into the new Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail and the space was available.

VSSA opened in the fall 2007 as part of the Eagle County school district. The school provides flexible scheduling so students can pursue their athletic and academic dreams at the same time.

“As the only public ski academy in the United States, we are proud of students who have found their passion and are able to pursue that while maintaining their educational path,” said Geoff Grimmer, the ski academy’s head of school.

Enrollment has tripled in those four years, from 30 students to 90, with more students expected. Most are local, but some come from all over the country.

The school district and Ski Club Vail were trying to figure out how to deal with snow sports athletes who were competing and training all over the world, Radamus said.

“We said there has to be a better way for these kids to not compromise their dreams and not sacrifice their academics,” Radamus said. “It’s visionary on the part of the school district. Neither is compromised for the other.”

The academy put three students onto U.S. teams last year: Faye Gulini competed in snowboard cross, Heidi Kloser was the youngest freestyler on the U.S. team, and Greta Byrne was the team’s youngest alpine racer. They’re all VSSA students.

“The academic success is every bit as impressive,” Radamus said. “Students in this year’s class have already been accepted to Harvard, Dartmouth, Middlebury, CU and DU, and other schools. That’s from a small graduating class of 16.”

Students load up on classes in the spring and fall, when they’re not on the snow as much. In the winter they split between school and training. The high intensity travelers, those on national teams, need a little more self discipline.

In the winter they train from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., then hit the books until 5:25 p.m.

VSSA students are full-time with Eagle County Schools. Just like everyone else, they need 27 credits and some community service hours to graduate.

As part of the deal, SSCV got a land lease with a purchase option. Their administration will move from Golden Peak to Minturn, as will the coaches and most of the conditioning equipment and workouts.

When Ski Club Vail was founded in 1964, it was 3,500 square feet on one level of a building set into the hillside. Less than 50 kids were members. When the second floor was added, there were about 70 kids.

“Now we have about 70 staff,” Radamus said.

The Golden Peak facility will again be what it was meant to be.

“It’s a fabulous portal to the mountain and gathering place for the kids,” Radamus said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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