From school to the slopes: former students balance passion and education

Joseph Compagno

For some, the typical everyday routine of waking up and attending school can be quite boring, tedious, and repetitive. However, for some high school students, this is not the case.

Four former Redwood students – Jack Knorpp, Charlie Klein, Connor Evans, and Chris Fitzpatrick – are currently enrolled at the Sugar Bowl Ski Academy in Lake Tahoe, a high school very different from most others.

The four seniors all attended Redwood their freshman year, but attended the Ski Academy second semester. After doing the same thing sophomore year, they decided to enroll at the Academy full time.

“It was a hard decision, trying to decide whether I wanted to dedicate all my time to skiing,” Knorpp said. “I had to give up a lot time with friends and family.”

Jack Knorpp, senior, tears up the slopes during one of his giant slalom events.

Despite attending a school 178 miles from Redwood, Knorpp said that it is fairly easy to get back home during the fall and spring.

“I have my own car to drive, and I try to get back as many weekends as possible,” Knorpp said. “We carpool back and forth probably every weekend during the fall and spring. During the winter it’s harder though, because we have to keep up with training on the weekends and have a lot of competitions.”

Fitzpatrick said that even with the hardships associated with being so far from home, the skiers all enjoy their time at the Academy.

“It’s really fun, and a great way to do something more than the repetitive high school lifestyle,” Chris Fitzpatrick said. “[It allows us to] get more out of the high school experience.”

Fitzpatrick said the high school curriculum at the Ski Academy is pretty standard, but it differs from Redwood because the students don’t have the ability to attend classes every day.

“Right now, there are a couple of kids in Colorado,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’ll be there for a decent amount of time and won’t be at school for a while. Teachers are usually pretty accessible over Skype or phone, but it’s up to them to keep up with the work students do on campus.”

Klein is one of the skiers currently competing in slalom races in Aspen, Colorado.

“The top 25 individual skiers were invited to Colorado,” Klein said. “We started competing about a week and a half ago, and usually have about 30 competitions per season.”

Klein said that races during the regular ski season can take place anywhere in the United States, but that they are usually in the Western states.

“Most of the races are in Wyoming or Colorado,” Klein said. “We usually drive to competitions, and sometimes we can be driving for up to 10 hours to get to a race. There’s a lot of preparation to be done once we get there, so we usually try to get there a day or two early, and train on the hills a little. Some nights we have had to drive 10 hours and race the next day.”

Charlie Klein, senior, has competed in ski competitions around the globe. Most recently, he participated in an event in Colorado last week.

Knorpp added that the out-of-state competitions have helped the skiers learn how to budget their time more efficiently.

“Coaches make us have study halls during the week when we are traveling,” Knorpp said. “[Schoolwork] is something we’ve learned to manage.”

However, the ski trips can often amount to more than just school and skiing. According to Klein, the skiers often go overseas to train during the summers, due to a lack of snow in Lake Tahoe.

“The trips are great because you really get to experience the place,” Klein said. “In Chile, it’s a lot more relaxed, and you get a lot of time to explore the place, not just ski the whole time. Last summer in Chile, I raced against people from all over the world–Morocco, Germany, Austria, Canada. We get to meet all these different people from all over the world.”