Dec 1, 2012 | Marmot, Winter 2012

New Home for Podium of Life

After two years of operating in the Marmot Den at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, the Podium of Life Snow Sports Academy has found a permanent home.

Podium of Life is now in the former Nordic lodge, where a restaurant used to be located.

“It’s pretty exciting because now we’ve got our own area where we will have our own identity, and the kids will have more of a sense of belonging,” said Shane Harle, who owns and operates Podium of Life with his wife Corey. Their two sons, Kole and Teal, are students at the academy.

“It gives us our own space. It will also allow us to put up a sign that tells people we’re here,” Shane said. “It feels different because you have your own space; you can leave things on the wall, you can start construction projects that last a couple of weeks and you don’t have to clean up every day.”

The academy had been operating in space donated by Mount Washington, inside the Alpine Lodge. As the room was used for multi purposes, the school portion of Podium of Life had to be portable.

“When you have your own space you can prepare differently,” Shane said. Moving in to the former Nordic Lodge will also allow Podium of Life to take more students, he added.

Last year, Podium of Life hosted 10 full-time and 16 part-time students between December and April. Students attend class in the morning, following the B.C. online curriculum using eBlend, a distributed learning program through School District 72 (Campbell River).

A number of experiential activities ranging from avalanche awareness to wilderness survival skills and snow cave building were introduced, and guest presenters offered their own life perspective to students.

This year, 11 full-time and three part-time students were already signed up a month before the program began.

The academy has also changed its name slightly to reflect expansion of its program into other snow sports besides skiing, Shane said. This winter the academy will accept its first snowboarders, and will work with some of Mount Washington Resort’s snowboarding staff to provide instruction.

The academy is gaining a reputation across Canada for its program; they received inquiries last year from other parts of Canada as well as Australia and Japan.

Shane spoke with a representative from the Canada Snow Sports Association at a skiing conference last year and was told, “people are recognizing you are a quality program,” he said.

The Harles’ goal is to expand Podium of Life so they can hire more people and transition to an administrative role. Both she and Shane also have full-time jobs in addition to running the academy.

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