Waterville Valley Academy‘s new Pinnacle Program was featured on WMUR New Hampshire Channel 9 in a live segment, plus this article with photos!
(By Paula Tracy, WMUR.com) While some high schoolers are still in the mall choosing which pair of Topsiders to buy, some kids have been in school for almost a month now, in outdoor classrooms.
In Waterville Valley, there’s a new school for competitive skiers, freestylers and snowboarders, the Pinnacle program run under the umbrella organization WVBBTS / Snowsports Educational Foundation. And it’s really different. Most of the students were already in the WVBBTS / SEF programs, but some are from programs in New York and Montana.
On a beautiful hot August afternoon, with Mount Osceola as the dramatic backdrop, a teenage boy is sitting cross-legged under a tree reading the U.S. Constitution aloud to two others. Behind him, under other trees and at picnic tables, other students are in small groups.
Beyond that group is a huge, year-round ski jump on Snow’s Mountain, with freestylers and snowboarders launching off massive jumps and landing into a gigantic air bag.
There are about a dozen students at the Waterville Valley Academy Pinnacle Program for its first year. And by the sounds of it, that number will double next year. This school is offering competitive young snow-sport athletes a dream schedule.
It offers a scenario of being able to focus primarily on skiing over the winter with an optimal pre-season build-up in the gym and on snow. There is no other program right now doing such a profound switch of scheduling in an almost year-round program.
July and August are set aside as family time. Summer is all about physical assessment and academics and this phase runs through early November. As the competition season approaches, the school schedule eases up with only a third the course load from November through April. These winter months are when Pinnacle athletes will show what 40 percent more training time, and relief from heavy academics will mean to their progress towards the elite levels. From April to late June, it is back to the books with a renewed heavy focus on academics.
“This is a high school program like no other, and families have bought off on the concept of class time in August,” said Bob Sampson, Headmaster, “The winter will be the payoff.”
Pinnacle differs in other ways, too. The Burdenko Training System, focusing on six qualities of fitness and use of body weight to train on land and in the water, represents a truly tailored athletic development plan with a focus on nutrition and whole-student development. To give student-athletes the best chance to get into the college or university of their choice, the Pinnacle Program also includes intensive SAT test preparation from grade 9 on. Advanced Placement courses are offered in calculus, government and civics and environmental sciences. Pinnacle students can also take Plymouth State University courses in statistics, the American West and one called “Let’s Hear it for Sports — or Not!”