Dec 1, 2013 | Marmot, Winter 2013

Spring Skiing with Podium of Life

Last Spring, the Podium of Life Snow Sports Academy did something different: instructors Shane and Corey Harle took their students to Whistler Mountain for the Spring.

Students attended classes and skied from April 15 to May 27, making 2012-13 the longest year for the Academy since its inception. It was a gamble that paid off royally, Shane Harle said. “The coolest thing about the Whistler experience was the lack of lineups and the cheap time to ski, and the festive spring. It was good weather and people were happy.’

Harle worked it out that because students skied so much, it cost them approximately $5 per day. But the time was invaluable, he said. “We were able to ski with Provincial Teams and watch them.’

There were international teams from Russia and Australia practicing during the same time period. “It was great exposure for everyone,’ Harle said.

Podium of Life combines students’ passion for skiing and snowboarding with academic excellence. Students spend the morning in class and the afternoon skiing, snowboarding or taking sessions with guest speakers on topics ranging from avalanche safety and snowshoeing to biathlon or science experiments in the snow.

“Spending a few weeks in Whistler worked out so well that Podium of Life will move back there in the spring of 2014, once the ski season has closed at Mount Washington Alpine Resort,’ Harle said.

Podium of Life returns this year to the former Nordic ski lodge (pre-dating Raven Lodge), which worked out well last year.

The academy kicked off the beginning of the 2013-14 season with approximately 17 students – 12 full time and five part time (varying from two or three weeks to two months in duration). “Last year we had an international student from Chile who come for two weeks and we’re looking forward to that again,’ Harle said.

The academy has drawn interest from people in China, Germany and Australia, so more international students may be in the offing. “If it happens it’s just a bonus,’ Harle said.

One of the full time students signed up for the 2013-14 year is Sofia Tchernetsky, 11, of Calgary, who is ranked near the top 100 in freestyle skiing in the world. Harle met with her during a trip to Calgary in October, when he attended a freestyle coaching clinic.

The new season also brings change for the Harles: for the first time since they opened the academy, Shane and Corey will not be returning to their regular jobs when Podium of Life finishes for the season – they moved up to the Resort in December with their sons Kole and Teal as they usually do, but decided to devote all their time to the academy this year. “It’s going to be an excellent, exciting year coming up, full of new things,’ Harle said.


Podium of Life Snowsports Academy student, Erin Sketchley, continues her education while traveling abroad. After completing the school program on the mountain, Erin is now completing her grade 8 year while traveling throughout Southeast Asia.

There are so many options for education nowadays. And Erin is one of the lucky ones to be combining school with life experiences.

In the winter she attended school on Mount Washington, and now is combining school with worldwide travel. The Campbell River school district’s eBlend program helps students realize their dreams and potentials by providing a program built around the passion of the students.

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