Steamboat Springs — College is still a year away for Steamboat Springs senior Savanna Atkins, but that won’t stop her from boarding a plane this week in Denver with dreams of pursuing her goals at Windell’s Academy.
“It’s bittersweet,” Atkins said. “I don’t want to miss my senior year in Steamboat, but this is just too big an opportunity to pass up.”
Atkins, who competes in the half pipe, has won five national championships at the USASA Championships. Last season, she placed fourth twice just missing the podium at Revolution Tour events at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania and Mammoth Mountain in California.
Those results are a big reason the local snowboarder is bypassing her senior year at Steamboat Springs High School to attend Windell’s Academy in northern Oregon. She believes the attention she will get there could help her reach the next level and might pave the way to getting an invitation to the Winter Olympic Games.
“She is one of the first people from Steamboat to receive a scholarship to Windell’s,” Savanna’s mother Rose said. “I’m very happy for her, and I’m OK with it as a parent. I think this is an opportunity that can giver her a head start — not only in snowboarding, but in life.”
The small private school offers athletes an intimate setting, with only 30 students enrolled, and a focus on snowboarding and free skiing. Savanna said individual attention in the classroom is designed to fit in with the rigors of training and competing in high-level snowboarding competitions across the country and around the world. Students will kick off the new school year with a three-week training camp in New Zealand, and once the competitive season begins, athletes are on the road every weekend competing in top-level regional and national events.
“It’s going to be nice to focus on my athletic goals, but I also know that I have to keep up in the classroom,” Savanna said.
The school day at Windell’s begins at 7 a.m. Students normally train from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and take classes from 2 to 6 p.m. Most of the classwork is done online, so that athletes can keep up with classwork when they are on the road.
“All our classes are online, so it takes some self-discipline to get them done,” Savanna said. “There is a teacher to make sure each student reaches their academic goals, and they help support the students when we have class.”
The local snowboarder has been exploring her options since the end of last season and recently received a scholarship that will make attending the academy possible. She also works as a waitress at Back Door Grill and recently started a Go Fund Me page (https://www.gofundme.com/2kf4rhvy ) to help cover expenses.
“I definitely believe this is the right move,” Savanna said. “I’ve been a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club for the past nine years, and it’s a great program, but I didn’t think they offered me enough to get to that next level.”
Savanna also pointed to the lack of a major halfpipe and other training facilities in Steamboat as a reason for leaving her hometown. Windell’s is located at the base of Mount Hood and offers plenty of year-round training.
“I like to take each year at a time and accomplish the goals I’ve set out to reach,” Savanna said. “This is my senior year, and I would love to end up on the podium in a Rev (Revolution) Tour event.”
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