December 23, 2020, East Burke, Vermont. Burke Mountain Academy (BMA) and Baerums Ski Club / Dønski Ski Gymnasium located in Oslo, Norway enthusiastically announce the formation of a strategic partnership with the goal of elevating alpine training opportunities for athletes and the professional development for coaches for both ski programs. The agreement formalizes an alliance between two of the premier ski programs in the USA and Norway that will feature an innovative Postgraduate program.
“We are thrilled to partner with Baerums/Dønski,” said Willy Booker, Head of School at Burke Mountain Academy. “For several years, demand for Postgraduate programming has steadily increased for a variety of reasons. The coronavirus pandemic only exacerbates this situation. We’re positioning BMA to emerge from this global crisis with a plan to be stronger than ever.”
The partnership focuses on programming at the U16, FIS, and Postgraduate levels. It opens opportunities for participants of each program to gain exposure to peer matching and cultural immersion consistently through the key development ages of the ski academy experience. The collaboration leverages the strengths of each program, giving each club access to training venues and travel opportunities at a far lower cost while elevating the quality of the experience in the process.
The new program will build on the already established BMA ETEAM Postgraduate program. While the partnership will offer training opportunities in the prep period as well as annual competition season opportunities for U16 and FIS athletes from the clubs, the collaboration will culminate in a truly unique PG opportunity for graduates of each program. As part of the agreement, BMA and Dønski will combine forces to operate a Postgraduate ski program jointly. This innovative PG program will combine Norwegian and American skiers who want to continue their ski racing, creating a bridge between high school and national team or NCAA skiing. The new PG design with Dønski will offer one prep period schedule for all participants with two competition season tracks. For athletes on a national team trajectory, the winter months will be based at BMA with a race schedule centered on the Nor-Am circuit. For athletes who are closer to an NCAA trajectory, the winter will be spent living and competing in Norway with the Dønski system. Both programs will include continuing education, cultural immersion, and mentorship opportunities.
Felix McGrath, Sport Director for BMA, has a unique view on how the Norwegian and American development systems work and how this partnership will accentuate the strengths of each. Prior to working at BMA, McGrath was the Director of Baerums/Dønski. “The Norwegian system has some inherent advantages and the American system has some as well. As one might expect, they also each have weaknesses. This partnership will leverage the strengths of each program and should elevate the offering from both. It’s a true win for each side.”
McGrath’s counterpart at Donski Martin Budal commented, “Baerums Skiklub and Dønski continuously strive to offer the best possible program for our skiers. By combining our resources with BMA, we will be able to offer our athletes added value and an opportunity that goes beyond skiing. This program will both increase our athletes’ possibilities of making it to their respective national teams or possibility to the NCAA and college. It will also give them a chance to form new friendships and a cultural understanding they would not otherwise get.”
About Baerums Skiklub:
Baerums Skiklub is located in Oslo, Norway with its own alpine ski hill in Kirkerud. The club was established in 1885 and is still one of the leading alpine ski clubs in the country. Baerums Skiklub owns and operates Dønski Alpin, a high school alpine ski program located at the Dønski School. Of the 23 athletes on the current Norwegian National Alpine Ski Team 11 are Donski alumni, including Kajsa Vickhoff Lie, Alexander Aamodt Kilde, Henrik Kristoffersen, and Alte Lie McGrath.
About Burke Mountain Academy:
Since its inception in 1970, Burke Mountain Academy has been home to over 1,100 students, including 36 who have gone on to compete in the Olympics and 145 who have been members of national teams representing the USA, Australia, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Great Britain, Japan, South Korea, and Spain. Above and beyond its alumni’s athletic success, BMA has always embraced a progressive educational model that focuses on engendering creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving in all of its graduates. Notable alumni include current U.S. Ski Team members Mikaela Shiffrin, Nina O’Brien, and Zoe Zimmermann as well as Nolan Kasper, Diann Roffe, and Erik Schlopy.