SnowSport school now in session

Students can now earn high school credit skiing or boarding on Mt. Washington

Podium of Life’s Shane and Corey Harle outside their new school house at the top of Mt. Washington.

Podium of Life’s Shane and Corey Harle outside their new school house at the top of Mt. Washington.

In what has to rank up there as one of the coolest courses ever, area high schoolers can now earn credit through a new program, SnowSports PE — the first of its kind in the province, being offered at Mt. Washington.

The brainchild of Shane Harle, who along with his wife Corey run the successful Podium of Life Ski Academy, the intent he said “is to give kids an opportunity to get credits towards their passion sports.”

Students can earn four credits each for Grades 10, 11 and 12. The program,120 hours including written work and activities, is self directed insomuch as it’s up to the students to get themselves up and down the mountain, but there are guidelines and a process to be followed. Shane developed the course himself, which is running through SD72.

For more information on how to ‘shred powder for marks’ go to podiumoflife.com and click on the ‘education’ link.

Students get an outline and registration package sent to them, “and once they’re registered, they document their hours and then they do a little bit of summation review, some planning, some self evaluation and they get the credits. The basis of the course is they’re up there skiing or boarding or cross country skiing and enjoying the environment and the world we live in right here. We’re so fortunate (and) that’s my passion, is to introduce the kids to this wonderful mountain experience, and beyond.”

SnowSports PE he said “will focus on pre-season, sport-specific and mental training to support their athletic winter sports commitments outside of school. The course is designed to meet the individual needs of students who want to pursue physical education outside of the regular school setting.” Some students will be members of the BC Freestyle or local teams such as Mount Washington Freestyle Club, Mount Washington Race Club, VI Riders, or Strathcona Nordics ski club while others will be skiers and riders who want to earn credit towards their graduation but do not want to join a club.

Any way you slice it, SnowSports PE is in keeping with the Harle’s commitment to youth and winter sports.

The couple started their academy in 2010 — he’s the freestyle coach, she’s the racing coach. Shane, 49, and his wife have two sons — in a not-so-surprising twist, the 16-year-old freestyles, while the 14 races.

The academy had 10 full time students in Grades 4 through 11 last year that lived on the mountain, and another 14 that commuted. A number of locals have attended; local snow boarder Jacquline Monette-Warren, Gr. 10, will start her second semester up on the hill in late January.

Shane oversees the Academy’s academic side as well. School gets underway at 9 a.m. and the morning is spent working on traditional core courses such as math, science, history…” but we do it in a creative way, and then in the afternoon we either ski or board.

“We have guest speakers, I bet we average one every two weeks — we’ve had world champions, we’ve had a couple kids from Africa; we’ve had doctors.”

“We want to expose these kids to all the possibilities,” he said, adding “there’s so much more than the white picket fence world we live in.”

The family is based out of Campbell River. When not tending to their school, Corey works as a physiotherapist, and Shane for the school district.

Shane was in great spirits when The News caught up with him as the family was moving back up to the big hill last Friday, with school starting on Dec. 10. They will live up on the mountain until May, “and we have a brand new school house this year which is pretty cool.

“It’s incredible skiing up there, it’s just light, bluebird powder,” Shane said, and you could hear him smiling through the phone. “It’s some of the best skiing Mt. Washington has ever had.”

Mt. Washington officially opened for business Nov. 30 marking only the second time in the ski hill’s history it’s opened before December.

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