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Get Out There

From Snowshoeing, Yurting, Fishing on the Big Wood to The New Ski Academy, Idaho Pond Hockey and more.

(page 6 of 8)

A New Style of Ski School

Ski Academy students warm up during training. Courtesy Sun Valley Ski Academy


When Olympic skier Jonna Mendes was growing up, she longed for a program like Sun Valley’s brand new Ski Academy.

“It offers a more traditional high school experience. Kids can still race and train at a high level but can also be part of the Drama Club or attend proms, play other sports and be part of the community. The kids can have a ‘normal’ high school experience,” Jonna said.

While coming up through the skiing ranks, eventually winning four National Championships, claiming a bronze medal in the Super G at the 2003 World Championships and competing at the Olympics in Nagano and Salt Lake City, Jonna felt that despite all her success, she was missing out on some of the more important aspects of growing up—like a regular education and all it entails. After retiring from racing, the California native was offered a chance to help create a one-of-a-kind ski academy in Sun Valley and she jumped at the chance.

“These kids deserve and need other opportunities besides just racing and this academy provides that,” said Jonna, who now serves as the school’s director for recruitment.

The Sun Valley Ski Academy is a unique program that offers high school-aged winter ski sports athletes (including freestylers, snowboarders and cross-country skiers) a chance to train with some of the best coaches on the globe while studying at one the nation’s finest college-preparatory schools, all set amidst the breathtaking backdrop of the Wood River Valley.

Unlike other similar (usually skiing-only) programs, the Sun Valley Ski Academy, which is a marriage between The Community School and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, doesn’t simply focus on skiing or racing.

“No one else is doing what we’re trying to do,” explained Jessica Wasilewski, the program’s director of residential life. The first year includes students from as far away as Connecticut and an equal number of boys and girls from freshmen through seniors.

“We want our focus to be on education through skiing. We’re not going to compromise the education or the connection to the community,” she said. -Mike McKenna


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