Academy adds options to its programming 

Podium of Life to offer weekly courses for locals

click to enlarge READY TO LEARN Podium of Life Ski Sports Academy student Michelle MacPherson, who is in Grade 8, will start school Dec. 1 as the school moves to Whistler.
  • READY TO LEARN Podium of Life Ski Sports Academy student Michelle MacPherson, who is in Grade 8, will start school Dec. 1 as the school moves to Whistler.

As it looks to make its foothold here in Whistler, Podium of Life Snow Sports Academy is planning to make its programming more accessible to local athletes.

Podium of Life is moving to Whistler after four years of operation on Vancouver Island. Shane Harle, who founded the non-profit school with wife Corey, said in addition to the full-time program, which will run from Dec. 1 to Apr. 16, weekly classes will also be offered to students so they can give the program a shot.

Harle explained the school was initially offering registration only for a full year, but with a few spots left to fill, has opened the door to shorter-term registrations.

"Now that we've moved here, it's just like starting over," he said. "We're just trying to make it available to mostly the locals. We're trying to adjust the way we do things all the time. We've got some full-time students in that period, but we're going to take some people in on a part-time basis."

Harle hopes to reach a total of 16 students per week. He noted bursaries and deals will be offered to local students who want to try the camp on a weekly basis, and opportunities to try the programming for a day free of charge are also planned.

In addition to skiing skills, Podium of Life also includes provincially approved distance education programming led by Harle, who has a Masters of Education from City University.

"(We're) mostly just trying to get people to know an alternative to the regular school, and how different things can be in a very successful way," he said. "At first, you just need to get people in the door, and they feel comfortable with it, and you go from there."

Harle said, generally, classes are held in the morning while ski instruction takes place in the afternoon.

The move to Whistler from Mount Washington was for both professional and family reasons. The mountain was closed for the bulk of the winter last year, while the Harles appreciated the opportunity to come to a more challenging locale, as their sons were starting to outgrow Vancouver Island's offerings.

"It's such a good fit for our school and our family," he said. "The acceptance we've had here has just been fantastic."

Harle is also seeking billets for weekly students from out of town, noting the commitment would last from Sunday through Thursday of the given week.

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