Many athletes arrive at GMVS with dreams of standing atop the podium among the best in the world who represent their countries at the Olympics. Since our founding, 26 GMVS athletes have accomplished that feat. Representing 7 different countries including Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Lebanon, and the United States, GMVS students and alumni have participated in 17 Olympic games. Beyond Alpine and Nordic skiing, they have represented their countries in six additional events including Biathlon, Bobsled, Alpine Deaflympics, Alpine Paralympics, Kayaking, and Ski-Cross demonstrating the true athleticism of a GMVS athlete.


It was in 1981 when Jim Fredericks was hired to provide an elite-level program to cross-country ski athletes, just as GMVS did for Alpine athletes. “It was the year World Cup skiers were just starting to skate ski in classic races,” notes Jim. He goes on to tell a story about a turning point in his career while coaching at GMVS, which led to remarkable success: “I took the GMVS team to the Craftsbury Opener and I asked a UVM Norwegian skier and NCAA champion what he was using for kick wax. He told me he wasn’t using kick wax even…Pal ended up winning the race easily. On the way home I told my skiers we were only going to practice skate skiing until we nailed the technique. We did just that and began winning almost every race we entered that season. Back then there weren’t any specific skate races so the people who learned how to skate well would have a huge advantage.”

During his time at GMVS, Jim incorporated cross-country running and cycling into the regular training regime, and trained over twenty Junior Olympic Team athletes, including two National Champions, while also placing skiers on the U.S. Ski Team in 1984 and 1985. In the summer months many college, national, and Olympic team athletes trained under Jim on the GMVS campus. 

In the spring of 1985, Jim was injured in an auto accident and the following fall Muffy Ritz, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team from Minneapolis, MN, was named the new Nordic Program Director – a position she served from 1985 to 1989. When she took over the program, skating was still in its infancy and she had just won the Birkebeiner, the largest and one of the longest cross-country races in the country (54km from Cable to Hayward, WI). It was a first for her and the first time the race was won by a skater, not a classic skier. That fall at GMVS, the team trained with roller blades thinking they would be better than roller skis, which were at the time, classic. As it turned out, roller blades were much easier and less effective than roller skis. “I actually think we deconditioned with those rollerblades,” reflects Muffy, “but boy, were they fun and they had brakes!”

During her time coaching at GMVS, Muffy continued to compete at a high level. She was instrumental in developing Junior Olympic, Junior World Championship and Olympic athletes, and brought a spark to the school that extended beyond the cross-country program. In the late 80s, under the leadership of GMVS Alpine Director Werner Margreiter, GMVS Alpine athletes would train once a week with the cross-country skiers and Muffy would lead an 8-mile run through the Camel’s Hump forest. The addition of the Nordic program added a flavor of grit, endurance, and adventure to the GMVS campus that still stands today.

THE HOWL – FACT 15 of 50

Over the years, the creative GMVS community has developed many traditions. One well-known tradition familiar to alumni in the 70s and 80s is The Howl. Originated by Ashley Cadwell, one of the school’s founders and GMVS Headmaster from 1978 to 1984, The Howl is brought out during special occasions. “[Ashley] would start it kinda low and mellow and then we would all start to join in and it would grow and grow in energy and volume until it was craziness. It would go for about 30 seconds. We all just felt better after!” remembers Doug Lewis ‘82. 

Ashley Cadwell recalls that “The dubious inspiration came from a desire to encapsulate in a graduation speech what it takes to be a ski racer/open minded/whole person…to theatrically portray the uninhibited joy of expressing yourself among friends, in community. It could have been that somewhere in my Humanities course that we read Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’. I suspect, though, a more likely source was Ken Kesey or Gary Snyder. I always love instigating The Howl, as much for the aghast looks of the inhibited as for the unabashed full throated exhalations of the uninhibited (in the latter group I could always recognize the best racers, actors, creative thinkers, of which in the Mad Acad/GMVS crew there were many). When I instigated it at graduation I knew all you kiddos knew what was up…the parents and friends were invited into the inner sanctum…if they joined in.”

“My first memory of The Howl is when we lost Heidi Burk [in 1984],”shares Sally Utter ‘87. “I remember we had an all school community meeting trying to process our grief, and Ash was talking us through life’s terrible moments, and somehow in the healing process we were all howling at the moon. From then on, the group Howl was brought out when we needed collective solace, or everyone needed to simply take a deep breath from the stress of school/skiing or life in general.” 

Founder Jane Hobart remembers fondly the spirit of the act. She says, “Ashley loved doing it and always had a mischievous look in his eye when he had a chance to instigate a Howl. It became representative of Ash’s joyous connection to the kids.”

Will Ashley bring out The Howl during the 50th celebration in June? There’s only one way to find out – we hope to see you there! 



Located just seven minutes from the GMVS campus, Inverness and Brambles have been home to GMVS training since 1979. With bottom to top access via a quad chair and varied rolling terrain, the Inverness trail has always offered the perfect canvas for young athletes taking their first turns in a course to those on National teams training for an upcoming World Cup race.

Since the early 70’s, the Inverness trail has been transformed into the Kelly Brush Race Arena – a showcase for ski racing safety that was established in 2012 in honor of Kelly Brush ‘04 who sustained a spinal cord injury while racing for Middlebury College. It was at that time GMVS doubled down on its commitment to venue safety, installed 150+ rolls of safety b-net, widened the neighboring Brambles trail and installed a new T-bar on the skier’s right lower section of Inverness. 

Establishing the KBRA in 2012 was just the beginning of a larger effort to improve and expand the training and race venue GMVS. For years GMVS dreamt of more varied and challenging terrain, more training lanes, more consistent training surfaces and an ability to host higher level and championship races. In 2018, a generous grant from the Killington World Cup committee set the stage for a more comprehensive KBRA improvement project and GMVS set forth to continue transforming the Arena into a world-class training and race venue.

In November 2019, ‘The Connector” was completed between Inverness and Brambles, transforming the KBRA into one of the most unique, flexible and challenging race venues in the east. It simultaneously doubled the training space and enabled GMVS to host races while also facilitating meaningful training. 

In the fall of 2019, GMVS received approval from the State of Vermont to begin construction of a new, full-length T-bar on Inverness to replace the 62-year old Poma. T-bar construction began in the spring of 2020 and the new lift took its first riders up in the winter of 2021. With a speed of 700 feet-per-minute and a total ride time of five-and-a-half minutes, the new T-bar enabled GMVS to increase overall uphill capacity and training volume on full-length giant slalom and super-G courses. In addition, the newly-added mid-station feature allows coaches and racers greater flexibility and the ability to use the KBRA’s expansive space and terrain in innovative and creative ways. At full operation, the KBRA can now accommodate 4 GS training courses at once or up to 5 training lanes including a full length SG.

Alpine Program Director Steve Utter notes, “There is simply no better alpine training venue than Inverness and Brambles, especially as an environment for a constraints-led approach to learning ski skills. In addition, the speed of the new T-bar provides our athletes all the gate training volume they need while freeing time to focus on other athletic priorities.”

Today, Inverness and Brambles are two of the most highly coveted trails on Mt. Ellen, and are almost always closed to the general public and used almost exclusively for GMVS training or racing. Private lift access to two dedicated U.S. Ski & Snowboard and FIS homologated training trails (Inverness and Brambles) provides athletes with innumerable training permutations — from full length GS to slalom drill courses on either steeps or flats. With its challenging terrain and extensive snowmaking capacity, KBRA often hosts U.S. Ski & Snowboard regional projects and several top NCAA collegiate teams.


Did you know that the “Berg und Thal” (translates to “Mountain and Valley” in German) originated at GMVS? 

When Doug Lewis ‘82 arrived on campus in 1978, the Berg und Thal was already in use as a way to work on power, strength, agility and capacity. It was a great way to ignite competition to see who was the fastest! 

At some point in the 90s, GMVS did away with the Berg und Thal. Doug was on campus for ELITEAM when he found it in the dumpster. He rescued it and has used it at ELITEAM ever since. He loves the Berg und Thal so much, he even built a second one ten years ago. As far as he knows, these are the only two such pieces of equipment in existence.

Every ELITEAMer since 1991 (including US Ski Teamers Mikaela Shiffrin, Alice Merryweather, Lauren Macuga, Grace Henderson and Jimmy Krupka) have tested themselves on it and the fastest time for twice around is 9.32 seconds!


In the late 70’s and early 80’s physical testing had no technology to rely on. It was basic measurements of raw strength and endurance – exercises like sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, lateral jumps, timed held tucks and the infamous 2-mile run. Athletes trained all summer with these tests in mind and the competition was fierce. Former coach Kirk Dwyer oversaw testing and he (and most of the coaches) were as fit, or more fit than any of the kids with whom they tested. 

The run was brutal. The standard for boys was 12 minutes and it became even harder when Kirk moved it from the flats to an almost pure uphill on Number 9 road to the Putnam’s house. Over the years, the run was completed on a two-mile stretch on North Road in Moretown and a 1.5 mile on the Harwood track. Some were given the option to sprint the App Gap. 

Sit-up and pull-up numbers were a total point of pride, but it could get out of hand. Once kids started going into the multiple hundreds of situps, Kirk would remind folks that the standard was measured by how many you can do in one minute.  But, pull-ups were a daily test, as most evenings the kids converged on the pull-up bar in Kirk’s apartment in Poundcake seeking to best the previous day’s tally. 

In the early days, Kevin “Kaz” Zanella ‘79 was the King of the Tuck Test. In the words of Jamie Preston ‘80, “We all started in our tucks and held them until you ‘timed out’ – the standard was around three minutes, but many went well beyond that. Kaz’s strength was unlike any other.  He would hold his tuck until the rest of the school had dropped out, he would then smile, stand up and walk away as if nothing had happened.” 

Despite the competition, the community support was incredible. One year we did a timed hike/run up Mount Ellen. Mark “Spider” King was our aerobic machine and easily won the day, but he (and each successive finisher) yelled encouragement at the top of their lungs until the later finishers were met with a Gauntlet of athletes, willing them faster to the top. First or last, the community embraced you if you worked hard – no pressure plates or beep tests needed!

Today’s athletes participate in a similar, yet standardized, series of physical tests drafted by U.S. Ski and Snowboard titled SkillsQuest, and while the tests have evolved over the years, the same all-out effort to dig deep and leave nothing behind while supporting those around you remains the same.


GMVS is known as a premier ski academy in the East, with some student-athletes arriving eager to participate in the fall soccer program and others who step on the field for the first time to be a part of the team. As we wrap up the 2022 fall soccer season and our athletes prepare for ski camps out West, we find ourselves reminiscing about teams of the past. 

Since 1973, GMVS has fielded a boys’ team and a few years later, a girls’ team was also formed. While soccer isn’t the primary reason student-athletes choose GMVS, it is one of the offerings that brings together a community of mixed-age athletes in the pursuit of one common goal – to win. Over the years, both boys and girls have fielded incredibly powerful teams and each has even gone on to win division state championship titles.

In 1987, under the leadership of coach Jared Cadwell, the GMVS girls’ team won its first Division III State Championship 2-1 over Hazen. In the words of Jared Cadwell the year the girls won the title, “What a great season it was for this wild and crazy crew! The GMVS women came back with a vengeance from a season spent on the sidelines. The women’s regular season record was 6-2-1 with additional wins over Black River (semifinals), and Hazen (finals) in the playoffs.” Jared continues with highlights from the season and final thoughts on the Championship win, “What I’m left with though is the memory of that inexpressible joy that I felt as the seconds ticked away at Archie Post Field on that day in October. We did it sistahs!!”

The girls have since gone on to win the Division VI State Championship in 1992 under the leadership of coach Sarah Despres who continues to lead our girls’ team to date.

It was only four years after the girls’ first championship win that the boys’ team won their first Division IV State Championship under the leadership of coach Jamie Hutchins in 1991. 

In 1998 the boys landed another state championship title against Mill River under the leadership of coach Deejae Johnson. Newspaper headlines captured the excitement; “GMVS works overtime, downs Mill River” and “Minutemen Falls Short Against GMVS in Final.” 

Championship wins are not an annual occurrence, but our teams have proven that it’s possible. Some GMVS athletes have gone on to play in college, others have stepped in as coaches, and many carry fond memories of time on the pitch with teammates.


GMVS has had a tremendous impact on the local community since its start in 1973. Our annual community service day and senior service commitment are long standing components of the GMVS program and provide local businesses, volunteer organizations and residents with much needed support.

On August 30th, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene would put the school’s commitment to service to its test.
“From August 28‐29, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene pummeled the slopes and valleys of Vermont with heavy rain and wind. Rainfall totals of 3‐5” were recorded throughout the state, with many areas receiving more than 7”, especially on higher, eastern slopes. As a result, major floodwaters and debris poured through our river ways and communities, from the Mad River valley south to the Deerfield River, affecting 225 municipalities. In many areas, flood levels rivaled or approached the historic flood of 1927, which for 83 years has been a benchmark of Vermont floods.” Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Sacha Pealer, January 4, 2012

After the weekend’s massive rains from the passing storm, the skies cleared to a sunny Monday morning and classes resumed. The campus on Bragg Hill and the new T-bar on Inverness were spared from Irene’s devastation, but the damage that had occurred throughout the Valley was not lost on students and staff. Throughout the day stories were shared of the hardship witnessed, and by the afternoon plans were in place to commit all GMVS resources to the Mad River Valley. Classes were canceled, and although the massive amount of clean up seemed like an impossible task, it was clear that the community needed help.

By Tuesday morning, GMVS students and staff were dispersed throughout the local community and engaged in some of the dirtiest clean up jobs. From Bridge Street to American Flatbread, Waterbury to Moretown, GMVS students and staff fanned out in groups, carried buckets of mud and water, collected farmer’s produce, re-stacked firewood, salvaged equipment and did whatever they could to support the local businesses and residents. Tuesday’s hard work was rewarding and showed how much a large group could accomplish, but also proved that there was much to be done.

The group headed out again on Wednesday for another day of work. And on the following weekend and for many weekends thereafter, the GMVS community actively worked to help those in need. Proceeds from the GMVS musical “Cats” were donated to the Mad River Community Fund and the GMVS spring community service day continued to support those devastated by Irene. GMVS also invited the Rochester High School soccer team to practice on the school field, as theirs had been flooded beyond repair. Below is a list of some of the businesses that GMVS helped in the first days after the flood:

American Flatbread
Bridge Street businesses
Maclay Architects
Hartshorn Farm
Simplicity Farm (Turner farm)
The Pitcher Inn
Numerous private residences in Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston
Moretown – general clean up efforts in town
Kingsbury Farm
Waterbury businesses


GMVS, originally known as the Mad River Valley School (“Mad Acad” to the students), had a modest start in November 1973 in two buildings that are right up the hill from the present campus in Fayston on Bragg Hill.

That year, four boys lived in two double-deckers in a bedroom with a loft for their desks in Al and Jane’s house, and the other seven boys and one girl lived in a rented ski house just down the road, with a staff member. That house was a bit iffy — daylight showed through the wall in at least one place. However, in addition to bedrooms there was a kitchen, room for everyone to eat together, and a living room. Somewhere, room was found for teachers to work with students on their assignments from their home schools, because the school was tutorial-only for the first few years. The “gym” was in the large workshop in Al and Jane’s house — mostly equipped with some weights.

The next year, amazingly, there were enough students that we needed more space. Luckily John Schultz, coach and math/science teacher, had just bought a large house with a barn in Moretown village. He and his patient wife Annette had been thinking of starting a bed and breakfast there, but instead they renovated their buildings into a dorm, study spaces, tuning space, and a workout area.

For several years Mad Acad continued in the Schultzes’ space. As we grew, rooms were rented throughout Moretown Village to house students, although classes and training stayed in the central area. (We even built a small rope tow behind the elementary school.)

Finally, in about 1977, the staff decided three important things: teaching other people’s courses was not interesting or stimulating; for both classes and training we needed to expand to a full-year program; and we had outgrown Moretown village. Around then we stopped training at all three ski areas and started training primarily on Inverness, at what was then Glen Ellen. In order to differentiate the school from Mad River Glen, we changed the name to Green Mountain Valley School and started looking all over the Valley for land on which to build our own campus.

As luck would have it, that was when Lucy Brothers, who owned the farmland where our main campus is now, decided it was time to sell. We were able to buy the land and the farmhouse, which was at that time situated right by Moulton Road where the Library now stands.

The sale was completed, and on April 1, 1978, ground was broken for the main building (now the Hobart Building) for offices, dining room and kitchen, and three dorms (now Clark, Witch’s Hat and Pound Cake). The original farmhouse became the offices for administrative staff and some teachers and coaches. School opened almost on time in the fall, on October 1.

You may wonder why the dorms have such peculiar names. Well, they were originally intended as jokes. When architect Turner Brooks first showed the varying rooflines to the staff, they were jokingly said to look like a witch’s hat, a slice of poundcake, and — a plain gable roof. The plain gable roof dorm needed a name too so someone thought of the classic movie actor Clark Gable, and the thus the dorms were named. Quite a while later when another dorm was needed, despite a naming contest for the whole community no better name was found than New Dorm.

Once the office, living and eating spaces had been created, the most obvious lack was a gym. How to find an architect for what would be a very important structure? We ran a contest, inviting architects to submit suggested designs. The design, by David Sellers of Prickly Mountain in Warren, incorporated a workout space on the mezzanine and a tennis court on the main floor which required a high ceiling, and so the arched roof came to be. One day an enormous flatbed truck arrived on campus with the beautiful laminated curved trusses on board and construction was completed in a relatively short time. The rubber roof was a popular architectural solution of the early 80s.

Some would think that meant the campus was complete but of course there is always more to do. Classes were still being held mostly in the existing dorms so it was time for an academic building. Many generous donors made it possible to extend the campus to the other side of Moulton Road, bringing it closer to that original rented ski house used in the first year.

At around that time there was a fire in the Farmhouse, or office building. The building survived but the computers melted and some records were lost. The books and papers in the offices suffered water and smoke damage. Ultimately the decision was made to move that building across the campus to be used for art and photography classes and some storage. It was jacked up and put on rollers, electric wires then stretching across the campus were raised to let the building pass, and the move was accomplished. A newer office and library was built on the site of the original farm building.

To make the campus more interesting and pleasant, someone came up with the idea of building a gazebo for hanging out and sometimes for classes. The father of a student took on the task of designing the building and working with students not just to construct it, but to figure out exactly how each piece of wood had to be cut to fit the floor, supports, and roof angles. Sadly, time took its toll on the gazebo and it had to be replaced in 2022, though the new one is larger and should be more durable.

What was still missing? A student center. The impetus for that building was a sad one. Doug Parker, a GMVS alumnus, was killed in a rock climbing accident while he was in college. To honor his memory his parents made possible the construction of our student center, including the downstairs weight room, locker rooms, and video rooms, and the coaches’ offices.

But how about all our “stuff”? We needed a storage building. How could we get one? Some imaginative staff members came up with the idea of a student-built barn. Funds were raised, wood was ordered and cut to size, and in one day(!) the structure went up using people-power and very careful instructions. If you look in the entry hall of the student center you will see a mural depicting that day, and “stones” acknowledging and thanking the donors.

In the early 2000s it was time to re-do the library building both to enlarge it and provide more classroom space, and to educate the community about sustainable building. Committees were formed, each including some students, teachers, coaches and staff, to research and recommend the most environmentally-responsible ways to design, construct, heat, cool, etc. the building. Funds were raised and ultimately a LEED-certified building was completed and opened ceremoniously by Jim Douglas, Vermont’s Governor.

OK. We had everything we could wish for. Or did we? Every year since about 1980, the theater program had used the gym for the fall productions (very early on the theater production took place in the dining room). The “theater” had to be constructed and deconstructed every year. So we needed a theater, which could also be used for all-school meetings and events.

Around 2014 a generous donor solved that problem by funding the construction of the Racing Performance Center, or RPC, as it is known today. That made it possible to build a permanent theater and backstage in the former gym, and an art/photography classroom in the south-facing glass-walled room. Two birds were definitely killed with that stone but sadly, the student-constructed storage barn had to be sacrificed because it was on the site of the proposed RPC.

Now we REALLY had everything, right? You got it — there was still something missing. Where was our Head of School living? In a condo at Sugarbush Lincoln Peak donated by a generous GMVS alum/board member. That was a good place to be, but a bit far from the campus. As had happened so many times, we were incredibly fortunate that our neighbor to the west, who happened to be the granddaughter of Lucy Brothers who sold us the original campus, was ready to sell her house and land. The condo at Sugarbush was sold, the house and land to the west were bought, and for the first time we had our Head of School actually living right on campus.

What’s next for the GMVS campus? You’ll need to use your imagination as so many have done before you.


Ski camps are an integral aspect of today’s GMVS experience, providing athletes an invaluable opportunity to accumulate time on snow in a highly focused environment. But a look back through history shows that through the ‘80s virtually all training was done at Sugarbush North. Travel for skiing wasn’t especially worldly or glamorous. However, as the school grew through the ‘90s, training was bolstered by improved facilities and an international reach. In 1997, the school bought a house in Kössen, Austria to serve as a base camp to provide students with exposure to European racing and training. Training camps in South America and Europe became a common part of the GMVS student experience.

The house in Kössen has since been sold, but early season international training remains fundamental to the GMVS experience. In fact, over 100 GMVS Alpine athletes and coaches are currently in Valle Nevado, Chile, and the Nordic team is in Mals South Tyrol, Italy.

Valle Nevado, Chile, located just 90 minutes east of Santiago at an elevation of 10,000 feet, expands along the spine of a beautiful mountain ridge, where athletes are treated to wide-open terrain, world-class snow quality, and spectacular Andean views. Coaches are focused on working closely with athletes on building fundamental skis in and out of the course. Much of the terrain provides a completely safe, wide-open canvas for long runs – some runs extend up to 2.1 miles PER RUN. The camp is a critical aspect of our speed training progression and sets up GMVS athletes for success in speed events throughout the season.

Across the Atlantic in Northern Italy, the Nordic team is experiencing altitude training at its finest. The town of Mals sits at 3,500 feet and is the team’s launchpad for all training. Out the door from their accommodations at the new Hostel Finka lies the impressive Vinschgau Valley which offers limitless single-track terrain for hiking and mountain biking. Paved bike paths for rollerskiing wind through what seems like never-ending orchards of fruit trees. Two world-class rollerski tracks are available for use at any time and a mere 45 minutes away lies the Stelvio Glacier for skiing at 11,000 feet. Only one hour and fifteen minutes away is the Val Senales Glacier and Cross Country ski track. For good reason, this is where national teams come to train from all around the world nearly every fall.

This year’s Nordic athletes find notes from previous GMVS camps in a journal on one of the peaks they explored in Italy.
Both Alpine and Nordic athletes fill their time off the hill with focused regenerative sessions, facilitated study sessions to stay on top of class assignments, and working closely with coaches to hone their tuning skills. Soaking in the local culture, trying new foods, practicing an unfamiliar language, and gaining comfort in a new environment are all part of the experience. In Italy, student-athletes even have an opportunity to learn about the rich history of German-speaking South Tyrol through various mini-lessons that GMVS teacher Jere Brophy conducts when training takes them to numerous places of historical interest.

Since the early 90s when international travel became synonymous with the GMVS experience, athletes have since traveled to a worldly list of destinations including, but not limited to Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Switzerland, and Italy. The list is long and will continue to grow as we continue to offer GMVS athletes opportunities to train throughout the year and accumulate more time on snow in the pursuit of being the best ski racers in the world.