Mar 282005
 
Authors: Sarah Rawley

Summer school no longer has to be a boring repeat of failed classes.

Imagine a month-long course abroad in South America that takes skiing, snowboarding and Spanish skills to the next level.

The Andes Academy brings students the unique opportunity to submerge in a one-month intensive program where they will rapidly develop their skills in skiing, snowboarding and Spanish, at Catedra Alta, Patagonia, a premier resort in Argentina.

"This is a unique opportunity to develop and fine tune their skills on the mountain," said Nathanael Ksiazkiewicz, a senior business major and U.S. marketer for the academy. "It allows students to do something exotic for a month. They want you to be able to ski anywhere you want in the world when you leave."

This is the academy's inaugural year for the program. Waldemar Martel, a seasoned ski instructor of 22 years at Keystone Resort, who skies nine months out of the year, founded it.

The Academy is located in the heart of the Andes just outside the city of Bariloche, 1,000 miles southwest of Buenos Aires, along Nauel Huapi Lake.

"The skiing there is a lot like Europe. It is all above tree line, no ropes, and steep terrain and chutes. The town and views of the mountains are really beautiful, it's one of my favorite places to ski in the world," said Paul Hudnut, a professor in the college of business.

For four weeks, students will have the opportunity to acquire and improve techniques and style on all terrain including groomed, free ride, powder, off-piste, park and race.

"The advantages are that while everyone is in summer, you are skiing next to a big city that has a lot of fun things to do, and the views are some of the most wonderful in the world," Martel said.

Because it is winter in Argentina during the Northern Hemisphere's summer, students will be skiing in prime conditions.

"Think of it as skiing in February and March here. It is the best snow of the winter, and when you can get fresh powder, awesome instructors, it is prime conditions to excel," Ksiazkiewicz said.

With 80 hours of on-snow training and video analysis in small groups of three to five, student's ability to progress increases exponentially.

"The video analysis helps a lot because you can see yourself skiing and understand everything better," Martel said.

The Spanish language program develops students' abilities to move around in an environment of total immersion, in an eight-hour-per-week evening course.

Students that decide to attend a course in Bariloche may choose between two intensive courses, an emergency course for travelers or advanced course for a more in-depth instruction of the language.

"You can bolster your Spanish skills for the fall or just begin to learn Spanish," Ksiazkiewicz said.

The Andes Academy is the only fully coordinated program for skiing and Spanish training in the Southern Hemisphere.

All of the instructors showcase premier credentials and are bilingual.

Martel grew up in Bariloche, and after 27 years of skiing, which has taken him to Spain, France, Chile, Canada and the United States, he wanted to take students to his favorite place.

"We chose Bariloche because I'm from there, and it is really beautiful, one of the 10 best places to visit in the world as ranked by a tourist magazine," Martel said.

Another instructor, Inacio Sans, is currently the most requested ski instructor at Keystone resort, Ksiazkiewicz said.

Cathedral Alta Patagonia is the largest ski resort in South America, with 600 skiable acres, 3,000 vertical feet, 53 runs and a variety of terrain. It is a sister resort to Aspen and Saint Moritz in Switzerland, allowing the resort to become a member of The Leading Mountain Resorts of the World.

The program costs $5,500 for the one-month program that includes a ski pass, lodging, transportation and meals during the week.

Programs dates are July 4 to 29 and Aug. 2 to 30. For more information on the program visit www.AndesAcademy.com.

"For the future, we expect a lot of Americans to enjoy our style of life," Martel said.

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