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Ski academy planned for Whistler

New school offering spring courses ahead of full debut in December



There's an academy now for almost every type of student in the Sea to Sky corridor with the latest announcement outlining details of a ski academy based in Whistler. The Podium of Life Snow Sports Academy will soft-launch Tuesday, April 22.

The academy got its start on Vancouver Island four years ago, where Shane and Corey Harle have been working with young skiers at Mount Washington. Their school offers classroom work in the morning and on-mountain training in the afternoon.

"We wanted to offer an opportunity for kids to explore their passion of skiing in combination with school," said Shane Harle.

The Podium of Life Snow Sports Academy students study full-time at Harle's school in a combined private-public scenario. The main focus is skiing but the students in Grade 5 and up do go on field trips and explore the world around them off the mountain and out of ski gear.

Harle said he hasn't set a minimum number of students for the academy.

"We jumped off the edge of a cliff and we hoped parachutes would open and they did after a couple of years," said Harle. "We're doing the same thing in Whistler."

Harle's confidence is high as he takes a new leap of faith to expand his operation.

"The minimum number isn't there because I'm committed to making it work," said Harle. "We run a good enough program. I know people are going to turn their lives upside down and follow us."

At least five students are confirmed for Harle's four-week program running from April 22 to May 15 in Whistler, with room for more students.

Over the summer, Harle intends to put together a formal registration process to launch the academy in December.

"We take good kids and make them excellent," said Harle.

"We're just a cool little school that builds dreams."

The cost of being part of the dream isn't finalized yet. Harle said some program costs are uncertain at this point.

The Podium of Life Snow Sports Academy is launching ahead of hockey academies planned for high school students in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. The hockey academies will launch in September along with a soccer academy at Don Ross Secondary. School District 48 is also planning to offer a cycling academy at Howe Sound Secondary in the spring of 2015. Coast Mountain Academy in Squamish is offering a dance academy along with hockey, soccer and arts academies this fall.

Meanwhile, The Hill Academy Pacific has announced it is going to partner with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club to offer a High Performance Ski Program. The school is planning to open its Pemberton campus for the 2015-16 school year.