Ski Town, USA Home to Education Worthy of Olympic Medalists

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Triple Olympic silver medalist Johnny Spillane may have hit the history books as a high school student, but clearly the Lowell Whiteman School Class of '99 graduate has now written them. Spillane swept silver in all three 2010 Olympic Winter Games Nordic Combined events becoming the most decorated Nordic Olympic medalist in U.S. history. Outstanding athletes and students are to the Lowell Whiteman School as champagne powder is to Steamboat; in fact, four of Ski Town, USA's seven Olympic medalists are alumni of the independent, college preparatory school.

U.S. Nordic Combined 2010 Olympic Silver Medalist Team

U.S. Nordic Combined 2010 Olympic Silver Medalist Team

“Training was hard and so was school but it was worth it. Whiteman helped make it happen,” said four-time Olympian and Lowell Whiteman School Class of ’99 alum Johnny Spillane.

To date, Lowell Whiteman School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado has produced 17 Olympians, including: Ryan St. Onge, the 2010 U.S. Olympic team member and 2009 World Champion Aerialist, who narrowly missed the podium in Vancouver placing 4th in Olympic freestyle aerial competition; 2010 U.S. Olympic team member, and Class of 2001 alum, Michelle Gorgone, alpine snowboard; Olympic medalists Spillane and Travis Mayer, the 2002 freestyle moguls silver medalist, Class of '00; several winter sports world and junior champions; and current U.S. Ski Team alpine Development Team member Anna Marno, Class of '10; all in collaboration with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

On Feb. 14 Spillane shattered the 86-year drought for U.S. Nordic skiers when he became the first American to medal in an Olympic Nordic event taking the silver in the Individual Normal Hill 10K. He made history again nine days later with a second silver medal in the Nordic Combined Team 4x5km Relay alongside teammates Bill Demong, Todd Lodwick and Brett Camerota as the first U.S. Nordic team to medal in the Olympics. Wrapping up the Nordic Combined events Feb. 25, the silver-plated Spillane skated to his final medal and second place victory behind Demong's gold medal finish in the Large Hill Individual Gundersen Competition.

Coaching the 2010 U.S. Nordic Combined men's team was Lowell Whiteman School graduate ('89 alum) Dave Jarrett, a former two-time Olympian himself, 1994 and 1998. Lodwick's wife, Sunny is also a Lowell Whiteman School graduate, Class of '95.

"Training was hard and so was school but it was worth it. Whiteman helped make it happen and they were really patient with whatever it took to get my work done when I got back from trainings or comps," said four-time Olympian and Class of '99 alum Spillane.

Spillane made the U.S. Ski Team while still a junior at the Lowell Whiteman School in 1998. For young competitors like Spillane, and others, juggling intense travel and competition schedules with academics, is a challenge.

Ryan St. Onge came to the Lowell Whiteman School after making the US Ski Team at age 14, but feeling the education available to him was being compromised. "That is, until, I went to the Lowell Whiteman School. The Lowell Whiteman School provided me with the opportunity to be educated and pursue my dreams in skiing. The teachers and the environment instilled in me a deep love of learning. I couldn't have asked for a better experience in skiing and school," said St. Onge, Lowell Whiteman School Class of '00.

For Travis Mayer, the 2002 Winter Games Silver Medal Mogulist, it was a matter of making a desire a reality. "I remember watching the Olympics in 1992 and wishing I was there," he recalls. Shortly thereafter, Mayer made it happen, moving from Vermont to Ski Town, USA, to attend the Lowell Whiteman School and train with Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Mayer's drive for securing the best education he can has always been as strong as his potential on the ski mountain; he has gone on to receive his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and is completing his MBA at Harvard.

Three-time Olympian and retired U.S. Ski Team alpine racer Caroline Lalive, Class of '97, was an elite ski racer throughout her high school years, spending weeks away from the classroom at a time. "This was the first opportunity I had where skiing and school coincided," said Lalive, adding, "The students were from all walks of life and the teachers respected the commitments and responsibilities of the athlete. With the classroom setting and the amount of work we did, it truly is a college-prep school."

Ski Town, USA has produced more winter Olympians than any other town in North America, now a record 84 athletes. Its Olympic tradition dates back to the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, when the Valley's first Olympian, John Steele, placed 15th in Nordic jumping.

The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, located at Howelson Hill Ski Area, is one of the country's oldest and most successful clubs, dates back to 1914 and is the oldest continuous operating ski area in Colorado.

Lowell Whiteman School is an independent, college-preparatory secondary school offering a curriculum of rigorous academics, foreign travel immersion, competitive snow sports and wilderness experiences as distinctive as its 192-acre Rocky Mountain campus setting in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Lowell Whiteman School is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and accredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS). Founded in 1957 by Steamboat pioneer Lowell Whiteman, today the co-educational boarding/day school draws students locally, nationally and internationally to its campus. For more information, visit or call 970.879.1350.

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Christina A. McLean
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