THE FAMOUS AND FAVORITE BERG UND THAL – FACT 10 OF 50

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!

AN ALL-OUT EFFORT FOR PHYSICAL TESTING – FACT 9 of 50

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.

HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF SOCCER AT GMVS — FACT 8 of 50

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.

A COMMITMENT TO SERVICE AFTER TROPICAL STORM IRENE – FACT 5 of 50

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

THE EVOLUTION OF CAMPUS — FACT 4 OF 50

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.

GMVS ATHLETES GET A CUTTING EDGE ON EARLY SEASON TRAINING WITH INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

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.

50 YEARS OF GMVS — A THROWBACK TO REACH THE PEAK

For 15 years (beginning in 1991), GMVS students celebrated the end of the school year and took on a 250+ mile relay race from the center of campus to the summit of Mt. Washington (New England’s highest peak) and back.

 

Beginning and ending on the campus lower field, Reach the Peak included a 110-mile run to the base of Mt. Washington, a 4.6 mile hike to the summit of Mt. Washington, a ski down Tuckerman’s Ravine, and a 140-mile bike back to campus. The final push was the senior sprint: a six-tenths of a mile run up Bragg Hill to the GMVS campus. It was a race against the clock to cross the finish line first.

 

Athletes who posted the fastest time on a relay segment were awarded an opportunity to give it a name that would live on until, and if, it was beaten. Some names lived on for years like “Sarah’s FlipFlop Funk,” “The Puke,” and “Two AM Torture.” Others embodied the grit and determination it would take to complete, like the trek up Mt. Washington, once known as the “Gnarliest of All Gnarlies”.

 

Every year and in every way, Reach the Peak encapsulated the GMVS spirit and ethos, inspiring students to dig deep and give 100% effort.

 

 

50 YEARS OF GMVS — HONORING AL HOBART

50 years ago, a young man with a deep passion for ski racing had the courage to follow his dreams. 

The man? Al Hobart – a self-taught Masters racer from New York City. 

His dream? A school where competitive ski racers could develop the skills to become World Cup, Olympic, and NCAA champions, right here in the Mad River Valley. With a foundational understanding that becoming a world class skier starts with being intentional and deliberate about being a world class person, Al recognized ski racing as a humane discipline.

When he and his wife, Jane, first opened up their home to 11 winter-term students in January 1973, the Hobarts began a life-long commitment of service to GMVS.

Over the last 50 years, GMVS has been blessed with a number of highly passionate, dedicated teachers, coaches, administrators, and Trustees – all of whom have left an indelible mark on the school. But none have been as devoted as Al and Jane Hobart who have served the school for the bulk of their adult lives.

An alpine racer from New York City, Al moved to the Mad River Valley in 1963 with an undergraduate degree from Tufts University and an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. When he arrived he was an active racer in the Master’s series, winning many national championships in GS and slalom. He continued to pursue his passion for ski racing and surrounded himself with like-minded individuals – the kind of people who had the fortitude to not only believe in a shared vision, but also make it come to life. 

His vision began at the Mad River Glen Slalom Hill, where he installed a rope tow dedicated to alpine race training, then he founded the Valley Junior Racing Club which he ran from 1966 – 1972. It was at that time that Al recognized the need for more full-time, in-depth training which necessarily required a focused, college preparatory academic component. He, along with John Shultz, Bill Moore, and Ashley Cadwell, founded Mad River Academy (which would come to be known as Green Mountain Valley School) in his home. 

Since our founding in 1973, Al has served as Headmaster, an alpine coach, and a Trustee, overseeing all aspects of the school and truly holding it in trust. After 50 years of service to GMVS, Al officially stepped off the Board of Trustees in June 2022, yet he and Jane remain deeply invested in the future of the school.

Today, Al and Jane still reside in their home off of Glen View Drive which once served as the school’s dormitory, dining hall, and gymnasium, often seen on Inverness at Sugarbush, and on the sidelines of GMVS soccer or lacrosse games cheering for their home team.

As we kick off our 50th year, we honor Al Hobart for his tireless work and dedication to the school. Without Al and Jane, GMVS would never have become the premier ski academy that it is today. 

Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS) wrapped up a successful school year of academic and athletic excellence. The end of the year finished off with final exams, both girls’ and boys’ lacrosse playoffs, an all-school prom at the Mad River Barn, and a celebratory senior dinner on campus. As usual for a typical year, the week culminated with a commencement ceremony for the Class of 2022 on Saturday, June 4th.

In keeping with GMVS tradition, the graduation ceremony focused on our graduates, each of whom shared heartfelt thoughts and memories about their time at GMVS. The graduates’ short speeches were inspiring, and touching, and included emotional tributes to their teachers, coaches, and fellow classmates. Although they were saying goodbye to this chapter, they are prepared for continuing to live the mission of GMVS which instills the development of a whole person with a life-long love of learning, sport, and adventure.

The graduation ceremony also featured the awarding of the Governor Phil Hoff Vermont Honor Scholarship and the recognition of the school’s valedictorian. The Governor Phil Hoff Vermont Honor Scholarship is awarded annually and goes to a Vermont resident who has participated in community service as well as other extracurricular activities and has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement. This year, the award went to Alex Chudzik of Stowe, VT. The school also recognized a valedictorian for the highest GPA in the graduating class. Megan Ryan of Duxbury, MA earned the school’s highest academic honor.

The 16 seniors entered the commencement ceremony driving a mix of motorized vehicles, a perfect reflection of their adventurous spirit. Most of the graduates will continue on to various colleges and universities throughout the United States. A handful will remain at GMVS to participate in post-graduate studies and continue to pursue their ski racing goals. Commencement is always bittersweet, and we are proud to send these focused young adults off into the world to do great things. As new alumni, they always have a home at GMVS.

 

Congratulations to the GMVS Class of 2022!

Alexander Nelson Chudzik, Davidson College

Victoria Knight Clancy, Postgraduate

Parker Clare Crawford, Postgraduate at Aspen, Colby College

Walker Thomas Henyon, Postgraduate at GMVS

Hazel Howard, Postgraduate

Phoebe Anna Hussey, Postgraduate

Silas Chittenden Jackson, St. Lawrence University

Jackson Bruno Musial, Colby-Sawyer College

Lucas Palcsik, Postgraduate at GMVS

Oscar VØgg Preisler, Postgraduate at GMVS

Mary Virginia Queally, Hamilton College

Dillon Macmillan Rowles, Montana State University

Megan Brigid Ryan, Georgetown University

Cole Winchester Sachs, Colgate University

Ian Christopher Seelert, Hamilton College

Maxine Adrienne Van Strien-Tuttle, Postgraduate in Maine

Congratulations to the newly named All-Americans Ellie Curtis ’17, and Hannah Utter ’17 of the Dartmouth Ski Team (Shown in the photo above with Dartmouth Assistant Coach Abi Jewett ’18).

After a full season of collegiate racing across the country, the fastest athletes competed at the NCAA Championships in Park City and Soldier Hollow, Utah in early March. There were 74 men and 74 women selected to participate and among those selected were the following GMVS alumni:

Women’s Alpine
Hannah Utter ’17, Dartmouth College
Ellie Curtis ’17, Dartmouth College
Sofia Yubero PG ’19, Middlebury College
Mika-Anne Reha ’20, Middlebury College
Carly Elsinger ’21, Dartmouth College – alternate
Samantha McClellan ’18, Middlebury College – alternate
Alexandra Cossette ’18, Middlebury College – alternate

Men’s Alpine
Declan McCormack ’17, University of Vermont
David Frisk ’15, University of Vermont – alternate
Mackenzie Wood ’20, PG ’21, University of Vermont – alternate
Cole Palchak PG ’20, ’21, University of Vermont – alternate

Women’s Nordic
Rena Schwartz ’18, Dartmouth College
Emma Strack PG ’21, St. Lawrence University

Men’s Nordic
Elliot Ketchel ’17, Bowdoin College
Gregory Burt ’18, University of Vermont – alternate
Joshua Valentine ’19 – Middlebury College, alternate
Aidan Burt ’21, University of Vermont – alternate
Brian Bushey ’21, University of Utah – alternate

The championship event was hosted by the University of Utah, March 9-12 at Park City Mountain Resort & Soldier Hollow in Park City, UT. For more information on the events, click HERE