Killington Mountain School athletes have been hard at work this fall both academically and athletically, preparing for their competition seasons to ramp up in just a few short weeks. A large group of alpine athletes traveled to Stubai, Austria, where they have had the benefit of outstanding, top-notch conditions.
Alpine program director Tom Sell shared his view of the trip so far: "It has been a phenomenal project. We skied perfect snow, that was hard and grippy for the first seven days, under bluebird skies. We split into two training groups on separate slopes, so we were able to really focus the training on the needs of each of the groups. Some of the athletes went back and forth between the more difficult training on steeper slopes and more fundamental training on the second slope. It was great to see all the athletes training together; we had Izzy and Cassidy training for the most part with the PG group, while Francesca, Honor, Caroline and Jenna spent most of their time with the U19/16 boys. We got a ton of mileage on long courses. One of the main reasons we come to Stubai is the amazing variety of terrain and the length of the slopes. Most glaciers are fairly short, but here we can train up to 70 gates of Slalom, and 45 to 50 second GS. With the excellent turn around time and fantastic conditions we were able to get up to ten runs of full length training in the session."
Teachers, coaches and students worked together in advance of the group's departure to make a proactive plan for completion of academic work, as this trip would have them on the road for over two weeks. In keeping with the school's initiative to use a blended learning model to aid in the delivery of academics, the group decided to make use of all the tools available to make learning independent of physical location. The time difference in Europe aligned perfectly with classroom hours here in the United States, and students checked in with teachers here during scheduled time slots using videoconferencing software as well as texting communication. Spanish students spent study hall time conversing with their teacher --in Spanish, of course-- giving them the chance to get real-time feedback and critical practice at speaking the language. Math teachers were able to guide students through the steps of solving a problem on paper and on white boards using cell phones as document cameras. Humanities teachers were able to use screen sharing features to allow students in Stubai to view content on their computers here, and science teachers were able to let students on the trip view lab experiments as they happened versus having to make up those missed labs upon their return. While some trial and error certainly exists, the overall consensus is that students on the trip were more engaged, more responsive, and more on top of their academics than on past trips. Once the group has returned, teachers, coaches, and students will connect to discuss what worked, what didn't, and how to continue to evolve the process to allow for maximum efficacy.
Tom elaborated on the group off the hill and in study hall, "The athletes have been awesome; the owner of the hotel as well as the staff have commented on the quality of the group, saying they can see the determination and focus of the athletes at all times. The study hall system, monitored by Pete Girardi and Jack Bailey has been working great. It is really fantastic to see the tools we have implemented such as Google Hangouts working so well. The feedback that I have gotten is that many of the students are actually ahead of those who stayed in Killington! Tomorrow is our last study hall, and then it is time to finish our last day of training, pack and head to Munich to start the trip home."
The group will return to campus on Sunday night, and be back just in time for the kickoff of winter-term when the school's population will grow exponentially!
(Jared Marshall participates in Spanish class with KMS teacher Claudia Revenko-Bowen)
While the alpine group was in Austria, the Freestyle crew headed to Switzerland with Freestyle Coach Nick Keating. The group was a mixture of full-term, winter-term, and PG students. Nick commented on their time in Zermatt, "The conditions and course were really challenging. We had glacial ice with crevasses and smaller jumps than average, but the kids persevered through this and really did well, and there were many successes on and off the course. We spent time working on the flats too, and overall the athletes had the opportunity to make changes and adjustments. At the same time, as always, training like this helps to reveal any weaknesses that can then be addressed throughout the season. The project also allowed athletes to train while surrounded by members of National teams throughout the length of there stay, and it was great to see that the kids were not intimidated by that. Off the course, the weather was nice, and we were able to go hiking, enjoy sightseeing, scenery, and engage in some team bonding. It was a great kickoff to the season."
KMS Freestyle athlete Alex Lewis added, "Overall I had a fun time. The course was steep and icy, but I feel I made some good improvements during my time in Zermatt."
(Ian Beauregard and Alex Lewis with the Matterhorn as a backdrop)
KMS Snowboard athletes have been here in Killington getting ready for the winter. Program Director Jeff Juneau commented, "Our team has had a busy fall preparing for early-season on snow training projects in November and December. The athletes have been working hard in the gym on flexibility, balance, strength, and power. In addition, we have been able to build on tactical skills and comfort at speed with plenty of mountain bike time on the incredible trails we have here at Killington."
(Snowboard and SkiCross athletes pause for a trailside photo at Pine Hill Park)
The snow should be flying soon, marking a wind-down point to the cycling team's competition season and a starting point to that of the other disciplines. Best of luck to all KMS student-athletes as they pursue their passions on and off the hill!