MT. HOOD, Ore. (KOIN) — There’s really only one way to get better, says Evan Bowers, a 16-year-old snowboarder from Boise, Idaho. And for many, the place to do it is right here.
“I get the opportunity to do that here,” Bowers said, “and it’s really cool.”
Here is just outside of Portland at Mt. Hood’s Windells Action Sports Academy, a springboard for Winter Olympians in the past, present and future from all across the country.
“The academy gives kids the opportunity to train about 11 months out of the year to focus on competitive snowboarding, which includes halfpipe, slopestyle and boardercross,” said Tommie Bennett, the academy’s head snowboarding coach, “and with the Academy we’re able to train and go to school at the same time.”
School on the mountain can be a full-time gig for these student-snowboarders.
“A typical day would be, wake up, we normally have breakfast in the morning and then shortly after breakfast we all load up and go to the mountain and we’ll normally ride from 9-to-noon, 12:30ish,” Bowers said, “and then we will head back and have school in the afternoon.”
Studying and riding together can be a bonding experience for the students.
“I think it kinda helps me when there’s other people that are doing this stuff that I’m trying to hit, they’re having the same fears as me and they’re overcoming them and it pushes me to overcome them as well,” said 11-year-old Caylie Neal.
For the students here, the ultimate goal is to make it to the Olympics, a reward discovered at the end of a lengthy process.
“There’s like a four tier process for the Olympics and first you have USASA which is our bottom, our grassroots program, next you would have Rev Tour and then after that you would have World Cup events and those World Cup events will qualify you for the Olympics and then you have the Olympics which is like, the big deal,” said Bennett.