Snowboarding his way from Vail to Dartmouth |

Snowboarding his way from Vail to Dartmouth

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Alfredo Velasco slides down an object in the park on his snowboard. Velasco just graduated from Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy and has a full scholarship to Dartmouth College.

VAIL, Colorado ” Alfredo Velasco wasn’t your average high school student, and it’s not just because he went to the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy.

Velasco, who graduated this year, is an innovator. He couldn’t afford the extra expenses at Ski Club Vail, the club that the academy’s students must join, so he went on a payment plan and worked hard to make the money himself.

Velasco would get up as early as 2 a.m. sometimes so he could work his job as a baker at the Avon Bakery and Deli before heading to snowboarding training around 8 a.m. He gave up a lot of his social life for his job, athletics and academics.

“My family wouldn’t have been able to afford it,” said Velasco, of Avon. “It wasn’t my parents fault I wanted to pursue this dream of snowboarding. I just wanted to do it on my own.”

Velasco ended up doing so much more than just paying for his expenses at the ski club ” he studied hard and made excellent grades in his classes, including tough courses like Mandarin Chinese, accounting and college-level physics that the academy offered online via Colorado Online Learning.

“He really became an academic role model at VSSA and for Ski Club Vail,” said Jennifer Brown, who taught Velasco in statistics, economics and English literature.

Brown wasn’t surprised when she heard Velasco got a full scholarship to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, an Ivy League school.

“He’s a snowboarder, but he put his academics first,” she said.

It was Velasco’s selflessness, though, that really impressed Brown. She said he’d volunteer for charities all the time, doing things like cooking Thanksgiving dinners for families in need.

“It certainly shows some character that he’s out there giving back to the community when he’s really in a position to be asking for help,” she said.

Velasco knew what it was like to need help, so he worked even harder for others who needed it, too. He set up a lunch buffet outside the ski club, grilling up hamburgers and selling them. The money he made from that he put into scholarships for other kids at Ski Club Vail, Brown said.

Velasco said the decision to leave Battle Mountain High School after his sophomore year and attend Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy was tough on him ” he definitely had to work harder for everything, he said.

“I was trying to compete in snowboarding, do my classes, train and also pay for it myself,” he said.

When asked what he did for fun when he wasn’t training, working or studying, Velasco laughs.

“I don’t remember much of (the last two years) because I was half-asleep for most of it,” he said.

The early mornings won’t stop at Dartmouth, either ” Velasco is giving up snowboarding competitively for a spot on the crew team. He said the life of a competitive snowboarder just wasn’t for him.

“It’s a tough life,” he said. “I didn’t start (snowboarding) early enough, so realistically I would not be going pro. It would be ridiculous for me to put my body on the line (for snowboarding).”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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