Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy

VSSA was founded in 2007 through an academic partnership between Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) and Eagle County Schools (ECS) to provide full-time SSCV athletes access to a fully accredited and certified college preparatory school. VSSA, the first public ski and snowboard academy in the US, has approximately 200 students in grades 5-12.

VSSA is located in Minturn, Colorado just 10 miles from SSCV’s Golden Peak base area and Clubhouse and is adjacent to SSCV’s Nordic training area and dryland facility at the Minturn Fitness Center.

Certain photos on this page are courtesy of Samantha Lathram.

VSSA HIGHLIGHTS AS OF JANUARY 2019

MISSION

VSSA provides a rigorous secondary and college preparatory academic program while supporting the athletic and personal goals of our students. In partnership with SSCV and ECS, VSSA facilitates the attainment of our students’ dreams by offering challenging academics, flexible scheduling, and individualized attention.

SSCV Financial Aid

As a public school, VSSA greatly increases the financial accessibility of its students to an integrated full-time athletic and academic solution. This accessibility is further supported by financial aid made available by SSCV to cover up to 75% of SSCV athletic program fees based on financial need. SSCV believes that no one should be restricted from participating in SSCV programs for financial reasons. Click here for details, including the financial aid application process and related deadlines.

Balancing Academics & Athletics

VSSA is uniquely positioned to enable students to pursue their athletic dreams without compromising academics utilizing the many resources available through ECS and VSSA along with utilizing SSCV Academic Coaches who supplement the VSSA teaching staff.

  • Schoology (learning management system)
  • Power School (electronic grading platform)
  • Naviance (college/career readiness platform)
  • Laptop or chromebook required for every 5th – 8th grader.
  • Academic Concerns Study Hall (Second Trimester)
    • any student with less than 70% in a class is placed on Academic Concerns List, and if by week 3, student not at 70% or above in that class they must attend Academic Concerns Study Hall in lieu of training until grade at 70% or above
    • any student may attend
  • Lunch/Recess Study Hall (First and Third Trimester)
    • required if not off Academic Concerns List by week 3 of a class
    • any student may attend
  • SSCV hires Academic Coaches to supplement the VSSA teaching staff and support students in a variety of ways, including-
    • in classrooms reducing educator to student ratios, creating opportunities for differentiated learning and getting students current upon return from travel
    • in academic school day study halls/lifeskills classes and Academic Concerns study halls as needed
    • in Think Tank resource center as available various periods throughout the week
    • additional supervision during lunch and dismissal times
    • customized academic support to HITS (high intensity traveling student) student athletes before, during and after travel
    • supplemental support before, during and after travel for large group long term travel for longer championship events and large group international travel
    • support with organizational/executive functioning skills
  • created through a combination of VSSA and SSCV academic staff, allowing for further individualized attention
  • teachers provide assignments in advance to enable students to get ahead before travel

Graduation Requirements

VSSA graduation requirements are set by the ECS school board. Close attention is given to NCAA requirements when a VSSA student-athlete is interested in competing athletically at the college level. 25 credits are required for graduation, with a minimum in certain areas. Students meeting certain requirements may graduate with a college prep diploma (recognized by ECS).

4.0 English

3.0 Mathematics

3.0 Science

2.5 Social Studies

1.5 Physical Education (SSCV)

0.5 Civics/Government

0.5 Health

10.0 Electives-one of the electives must be Senior Project to graduate at VSSA
___

25 TOTAL

4.0 English

4.0 Mathematics

4.0 Science

3.5 Social Studies

1.5 Physical Education (SSCV)

2.0 Foreign Language

0.5 Civics/Government

0.5 Health

5.0 Electives (one of the electives must be Senior Project to graduate at VSSA)
___

25 Total

4.0 English

3.0 Mathematics

3.0 Science

3.5 Social Studies (.5 must be Civics/Government and a .5 Economics)

1.5 Physical Education (SSCV)

1.0 Foreign Language

0.5 Health

1.0 Practical Skills (CTE, Arts, Performance Arts, Internship, Community Service)

7.5 Electives (one of the electives must be Senior Project to graduate at VSSA)
___

25 Total

4.0 English

4.0 Mathematics

4.0 Science

4.0 Social Studies (.5 must be Civics/Government and a .5 Economics)

1.5 Physical Education (SSCV)

2.0 Foreign Language

0.5 Health

1.0 Practical Skills (CTE, Arts, Performance Arts, Internship, Community Service)

4.0 Electives (one of the electives must be Senior Project to graduate at VSSA)
___

25 Total

Professional Development

VSSA staff along with SSCV academic staff gather as a professional learning community (PLC) on a regular basis throughout the academic year to share expertise, and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students.

Student Support

Student support takes on many forms at VSSA.

  • Facilitates:
    • community-wide individual and group education and support on topics including social media usage/safety, public safety, drug and alcohol awareness and bullying prevention
    • cross-age activities
    • injured athlete sessions
    • community service initiatives
    • building of a compassionate, cross-aged community culture
  • Among high schoolers:
    • creating individual student class schedules
    • helping develop community service, independent study, work place and internship opportunities
    • providing college counseling services
As members of a Colorado public school, VSSA students may be eligible to receive specialized student support services under Colorado Department of Education guidelines and state statute which may include a Response to Intervention (RTI), 504 Plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

VSSA and SSCV staff collaborate to provide support to VSSA student athletes who are members of SSCV. Ongoing communication between staffs helps provide the most seamless integration possible between academics and athletics and the reinforcement of SSCV’s core values of Character, Courage and Commitment (the 3C’s) and VSSA’s fourth “C” of Compassion.

Curriculum Highlights

The VSSA curriculum includes STEM, Spanish, Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, Independent Study, Work Place Experience, Seminar, Study Halls with an advisory component and elective classes, dependent on grade level and, in certain cases, space availability. VSSA students undergo placement testing in Math and Spanish to determine the most appropriate academic level for them to thrive and grow.

  • 5th–7th grade-incorporates project based learning in science, technology, math and engineering
  • starting in 8th grade-Spanish 1, 2 and 3 and AP Spanish Language and Culture via live classroom setting (or another foreign language at own expense via a VSSA approved third-party online provider)
  • currently offered in VSSA classroom setting in Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Statistics, Human Geography, US History, English Literature and Composition and Spanish Language and Culture
  • in addition, via pre-approved online course or a student prepping on their own for additional AP exams
  • currently offered in VSSA classroom setting in College Trigonometry, Economics, Anatomy and Physiology and Environmental Science, and, in addition, Calculus AB, Calculus BC and Statistics are DE classes as well as AP classes
  • in addition, via pre-approved Colorado Mountain College course held at nearby Edwards campus
  • high school students – opportunity to learn beyond traditional class in paid or unpaid internship via pre-approved proposal
  • Seminar – 5th-8th grade cross-age groups participate in activities such as typing and team building experiences
  • Seminar – 9th and 12th grade cross-age groups pursue academic strengths and passions including:
    • Grade level specific work including community service, college exploration, admission and selection
  • Study Hall (Life Skills for 5th – 8th grade) – 5th-12th grade – three periods per week which include study hall in combination with grades and goals review, including the following:
    • honing executive functioning skills
    • developing action plans to support goals
  • Lower and Middle School currently includes the following:
    • Cotillion
    • Art
    • Home Economics
    • Typing
    • Leadership
  • High School currently includes the following:
    • Health (9th grade requirement)
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Dual Enrollment Environmental Science
    • Dual Enrollment Economics
    • Culinary
    • Art
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science

Beyond the Traditional Classroom Setting

VSSA provides opportunities for students to take part in a number of community building initiatives, extra-curricular activities and middle school and high school sports including those listed below.

  • Wilderness Trip
  • Community Service Day
  • Homecoming Week
  • Monday Morning All School Meetings with guest speakers
  • Student Council
  • field trips
  • Science and Stem Fairs
  • Model UN competitions
  • spelling bee
  • reading buddies
  • mentoring
  • volunteer work
  • at participating schools in the county, subject to CHASA and VSSA Academic Concerns Policy compliance and collaboration with SSCV coaching staff

Calendar & Bell Schedule

Academically VSSA has two semester grading periods. Athletically VSSA has three trimesters.  During the second trimester (early November through early May), VSSA reduces students’ course load by removing an elective and Seminar.

During the second trimester:

  • classes are held on Tuesday through Friday afternoons rather than full day and extend later
  • training is held Tuesday through Friday mornings (with the exception of alpine U12’s and U14’s who have one morning a week off of training)
  • Monday remains a full academic day all year long.

See below for schedule details.
2020-2021 VSSA Annual Calendar
2020-2021 VSSA Bell Schedule

The VSSA calendar provides approximately one week off from school per month during the Second Trimester to allow for periodization of academics and athletics to best support maximizing performance in the classroom and on the hill.

Athletics

VSSA student athletes participate in SSCV athletics throughout the academic year, taking part in strength training and conditioning sessions before and/or after school, the frequency, location and nature of which vary based on age and snow sport.

The Minturn Fitness Center, an 8500 square foot state of the art human performance center run by SSCV personnel, along with the gymnasium and trampoline room and the nearby fields and Nordic trails are among the venues for strength training and conditioning and are located on or adjacent to the VSSA campus.   Age and snow sport appropriate physical testing takes place several times during the academic year.

During the Second Trimester, students typically train on snow on Tuesday through Friday mornings and weekends. U14 and younger alpine athletes have a rest period on Tuesday mornings and freeski and mogul athletes have dryland and trampoline training one mid-week morning each week.

World class on-hill training is available at SSCV’s home venue on Vail Mountain for all but Nordic athletes who utilize the Maloit Park Nordic Trails adjacent to VSSA. Nearby Summit County provides access to resorts with higher elevations and varying park and pipe features for alternate on-hill training sites.

SSCV has a medical partnership with The Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute which provides SSCV with a full-time Certified Athletic Trainer to assist full-time athletes with injury diagnosis, medical referrals and return-to-sport programming.

SSCV Technical Services at Golden Peak is located at the SSCV Clubhouse in Vail and provides athletes with reasonably priced, easily accessible resources for the highest level of preparation of their equipment for both training and competition.

Nordic equipment prep is done at VSSA.

VSSA Training Table

The lunch program offered at VSSA provides our young and developing student-athletes with the opportunity to get a balanced meal after long mornings of hard training on the mountain and throughout the entire school year. Proper nutrition not only begins the rebuilding process of muscles, but also replenishes energy stores and provides fuel for the brain to excel through the academic part of the day. Food is provided by a professional chef at a reasonable cost.

Next Steps for VSSA Alumni

VSSA students have gone on to compete in the Olympics and XGames and pursue their careers with the US Freeski, Freestyle, Alpine and Snowboard Teams. VSSA students have also been accepted at competitive colleges and universities where alpine and Nordic athletes may continue to compete in their sport at the NCAA or USCSA level and other snow sport athletes may participate on club teams or with nearby ski and snowboard clubs.

For the 2019-20 season, thirty-two SSCV alumni are NCAA rostered snow sports athletes (of which fifteen are VSSA alumni).  Twenty-nine SSCV athletes and alumni have been nominated to US Ski & Snowboard Association national teams for 2020-21 (of which one is a current VSSA student and thirteen are VSSA alumni).

Alpine

Lucia Bailey – Middlebury College

Reece Bell — University of Denver

Max Bervy – University of Colorado  Boulder

Colbey Derwin – Colby College

Rachel DesRochers – University of Vermont

Emma Hall — Middlebury College

Kaitlyn Harsch – University of Colorado Boulder 

Caroline Jones —  University of Vermont

Logan Martin – Plymouth State University

Megan McGrew – University of Colorado Boulder

Griffin Mueller – Bates College

Tagert Mueller – Bates College

Tucker Strauch — Colby College

Florian Szwebel – University of Montana

Nellie Talbot — Montana State University

2020-2021 US National Team Members | VSSA Students or Alumni

ALPINE NOMINATIONS: 

B Team 

Bridger Gile

Kyle Negomir

River Radamus

Paula Moltzan

Development Team

Jacob Dilling

Trent Pennington

FREESKI NOMINATIONS:

Halfpipe Pro Team

Aaron Blunck

Halfpipe Rookie Team

Sammy Schuiling

FREESTYLE NOMINATIONS:

Mogul Team

Tess Johnson

Kai Owens

SNOWBOARD NOMINATIONS:

Halfpipe Pro Team:

Jake Pates

Halfpipe Rookie Team:

Jack Coyne

Snowboardcross:

Faye Gulini

Development Group:

Meghan Tierney

VSSA Colleges & Universities

Arizona State University
Bates College
Bowdoin College
Boston College
Boston University
California Institute of the Arts
California Polytechnic State University
Clarkson University
Colby College
Colorado College
Colorado Mesa University
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
Columbia University
Dartmouth College
Harvard University
Hawaii Pacific University
Johns Hopkins University
Lehigh University
Lewis and Clark College
McGill University
Middlebury College
Montana State University
Northeastern University
Plymouth State University
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rocky Mountain College
San Diego State University
St. Lawrence University
St. Michael’s College
Sierra Nevada College
Tulane University of Louisiana
United States Air Force Academy
United States Naval Academy
University of California Los Angeles
University of California Santa Barbara
University of California Santa Cruz
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Denver
University of Hawaii Manoa
University of New Hampshire
University of New Mexico
University of Northern Colorado
University of Oregon
University of Utah
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Washington Seattle
University of Wisconsin Madison
Western Colorado University
Westminster College
Whitman College
Williams College

Alaska Pacific University
Arizona State University
Bates College
Boston College
Boston University
California Institute of the Arts
California Polytechnic State University
Colby College
College of Charleston
Colorado Mesa University
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
Columbia University
Dartmouth College
Eastern Wyoming College
Fort Lewis College
Harvard University
Lafayette University
Lewis and Clark College
McGill University
Middlebury College
Montana State University
Northeastern University
Oklahoma State University
Plymouth State University
Rocky Mountain College
San Diego State University
Sierra Nevada College
St. Lawrence University
United States Air Force Academy
United States Naval Academy
University of Alaska Anchorage
University of British Columbia
University of California Santa Barbara
University of California Santa Cruz
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Denver
University of New Mexico
University of Utah
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Western Washington University
Westminster College
Williams College

Arizona State University
Bates College
Boston College
Boston University
California Institute of the Arts
Colorado Mesa University
California Polytechnic State University
Clarkson University
Colby College
Colorado College
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
Hawaii Pacific University
Lehigh University
Montana State University
Northeastern University
Plymouth State University
Rocky Mountain College
San Diego State University
St. Lawrence University
St. Michael’s College
Tulane University of Louisiana
University of California Santa Barbara
University of California Santa Cruz
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
University of Denver
University of Hawaii Manoa
University of New Hampshire
University of New Mexico
University of Northern Colorado
University of Oregon
University of Utah
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Washington Seattle
University of Wisconsin Madison
Western Colorado University
Westminster College
Whitman College

Parent Testimonials

“VSSA fosters an environment where student-athletes develop life skills, such as responsibility, accountability and time management- three skills not only needed as an athlete but to succeed in the real world.”

– Parent of two VSSA Alpine Athletes

“We are very impressed with the high level of academics that are offered at VSSA. The Academic Coaches are essential to our children’s success when they are traveling and competing.”

– Parents of one VSSA Snowboard Athlete and one VSSA Snowboard Alumna

“VSSA has been an outstanding experience for my son. The small classes, involved teachers, flexible schedule, and academic coaches offered my son a great education providing opportunities for him to be successful on and off the mountain. As a senior at VSSA, we felt very lucky to have a school counselor who was excellent at guiding him through the college selection process. VSSA has been an incredible education and experience for my son.”

-Parent of a VSSA Freeski Alumnus

“Having come from a traditional school environment we have been very impressed with the ability of the VSSA staff to provide an environment where our children can achieve success athletically as well as academically. The tight integration, strong support structure, and creative scheduling of the school and athletic components have been essential to our boys gaining strong standardized test results and maintaining solid GPAs while reaching their goals in skiing.”

-Parents of two VSSA alpine athletes

“Our sons have thrived at VSSA. The class sizes are small and the students are able to foster close, collaborative relationships with their teachers. In the winter, when they are on the road, this is critical to their academic success. The emphasis on academics at VSSA is important to our family and we have been continually impressed.”

– Parents of two VSSA Nordic athletes