Granby Ranch will be the future home of an innovative ski academy imagined by the most decorated male alpine skier in the country.
Announced on Friday, the Bode Miller Ski Academy is a vision of the Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion in partnership with his friend and business partner Andy Wirth, who is part of the Granby Ranch management team.
While their vision began in Montana – where, hopefully, there will also one day be a Bode Miller Ski Academy – the location of the Granby Ranch is quickly turning from idea to reality. Miller and Wirth both saw the values of a ski academy put academics and athletic development first, including those who may not be able to afford it.
Miller attended Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine with help from a scholarship and the community, becoming the most successful American alpine ski racer of all time. Wirth’s son and General Manager of the Granby Ranch, Jace Wirth, attended Lowell Whiteman School, now Steamboat Mountain School, with a scholarship to excel both academically and competitively in alpine skiing.
“I look back, just like (Miller), and I said, ‘Dude, we’re so grateful to the people in this circumstance who made this happen for us,” ”Wirth said. “We didn’t look for him. We didn’t suggest we needed support. It just came to us and it meant so much more.
There are two principles at the heart of the Bode Miller Ski Academy: the best academic and athletic programs coupled with the same type of opportunities for young athletes from all walks of life.
“With clear intention, we have built into the business plan the ability to – regardless of the number of children in the academy – there will always be scholarships in the neighborhood of 25% of the student body,” said said Wirth.
This ski academy will also be at the forefront of athletic development. Miller explained that while his time at Carrabassett has been invaluable, he felt that the model of most traditional ski academies is not flexible enough to evolve with the ever-changing landscape of ski racing.
“I just felt like they were missing a few evolutionary steps,” he said. “I’m thinking of school or any type of situation like that that has to be at least flexible enough to evolve, to use modern technologies, to kind of incorporate modern concepts.”
The non-profit academy will focus on four disciplines, including Alpine, Nordic, Freestyle and Adaptive Skiing. In addition to working with the National Center for Disabled Sports on the road, Wirth has previously brought in friends Roy Toscane, an adapted skier and founder of the High Fives Foundation, and Alana Nichols, a Winter and Paralympian. been decorated, as strategic consultants for the adaptive side of the ski school.
“They will benefit from an excellent education and the best resources in North America to support their goals,” said Wirth.
While Miller, who lives in Montana, won’t always be at the ski academy, he oversees every part of it, from construction to the instruction, design and hiring processes. He said he was very excited to implement the training methodology.
He describes himself as a “last bloomer,” Miller was small and weak when he started training for ski racing. He said his school’s programs did not benefit him as he should have.
“We have a bunch of basic training methodologies that kids like me will benefit tremendously,” he said. “I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and it’s pretty exciting for people to watch people grow in that aspect. Just to get stronger and to change physiologically and to avoid injuries and things like that. I’m probably the most excited for this because it’s ultimately a defining characteristic.
Miller and Wirth plan to host the world-class academy in the best facilities. Wirth said the owners of the Granby Ranch quickly supported the ski academy, offering the association a free long-term lease on a piece of land immediately west of the Granby Ranch Base Lodge.
The western mountain of the ski resort will be the main training area, where the resort has already invested millions of dollars in snowmaking. Wirth said more investment was underway for the West Mountain.
“Now it’s a great place, but when we finish these additional investments, it will be a phenomenal place,” he said.
Miller firmly believes that small mountains can produce incredible athletes, citing a list of decorated skiers who started at smaller resorts like Granby Ranch, including himself.
“I think what you really need is a right environment, a really supportive environment and the ability to get a lot of volume,” he said. “I think Granby Ranch has all of these things. It’s a support team there. They understand and they are aligned in terms of doing this for young people and trying to put in place something that is sustainable and creates a great educational / sports development opportunity for children.
The 56,000 square foot building is designed by Don Ruggles, CEO of award-winning Ruggles Mabe studio in Denver and author of “Beauty, Neuroscience & Architecture.” Ruggles said he quickly became a part of Miller and Wirth’s project.
“We were immediately captivated by their vision, their inspiration, their energy,” said Ruggles. “It was awesome. We knew pretty quickly we wanted to be a part of it.
Ruggles’ work combines architecture and neuroscience to promote happiness and relaxation for the user of a building.
The ski academy, which sits on the steep hill next to the base camp, was designed as two buildings with an alleyway in between. Ruggles’s design aims to be a barrier-free, ski-in ski-out design for skiers of all skill levels, right next to the mountain.
“There’s an old saying in architecture, which is ‘Difficult sites generate dynamic solutions,’” Ruggles said of the unique location. “All that outline, all the slope of the land going up, we tried to use to our advantage by creating different terraces and different levels that intertwine.”
Wirth believes the building will become iconic in Grand County. The building will also serve as a facility accessible to the community with a multifunctional space for events such as indoor concerts.
The initial model of the Bode Miller Ski Academy envisages 125 boarding students, plus around 40 to 50 non-boarders or day students. The school will be tuition-based with numerous scholarships with academics through a partnership with Youth Performance Academy.
With Friday’s announcement, Wirth said a number of partnerships were underway and the school’s fundraising campaign was starting. With around $ 25 million needed for the project, the time to the official opening of the academy is about three to five years.
Miller, a father of several, said the overall goal of this project is to provide children with the opportunity to get a great education while pursuing their passions.
“The education system in the United States, for me, needs an upgrade,” he said. “Just to prepare people, whether they are athletes or just people, we need something better. I think all the resources are there; it just hasn’t been done. My overall goal is to raise the bar a bit. “