While many things about independent schools haven't changed – committed faculty, strong academic experiences, observance of history and traditions, and passion for providing enriched experiences – school definitely evolve and keep up with cultural shifts.

Case in point – many boarding schools now offer competitive snowboarding as a part of their athletic programs.

Modern snowboarding began in 1965, but it wasn't until 1998 that it debuted as an Olympic sport. Snowboardings 's rise to mainstream acceptance became complete when snowboarding debuted at the Nagano Olympics. It's foundation solidified, snowboarding became a popular choice among younger, competitive snow sport athletes.

Snowboard competitions includes disciplines, from racing to freestyle. Each discipline includes variations such as traditional gate racing as well as the relatively new sport of Snowboard Cross, which consists of five riders on course at once, racing around banked turns and over rollers and jumps. Freestyle competitions are generally divided up between the half-pipe and slope-style, which involves riding rails and boxes as well as jumps.

If you're a prospective boarding school student and competitive snowboarder, you can find a boarding school snowboarding program to fit your talents. These five schools feature competitive snowboarding programs designed to support the development of regional competitive snowboarders to Olympic level athletes. Whether in New England, or out west, snowboarding has become an integral part of these athletics programs.

Snowboarding Boarding Schools

In New England, two Maine preparatory schools offer competitive snowboarding programs designed to develop snowboarders of all abilities.

Located at the eastern edge of the White Mountains in Bethel, Maine, Gould Academy has been preparing academically motivated students for college for more than 176 years. Tucked at the base of the White Mountain National Forest and the Mahoosuc Mountains, athletes have access to the Sunday River Ski Resort and a school trailside competition center. The Gould Snowboard Competition Program helps riders reach their goals–regardless if they're competing for the first time at a local USASA event or standing on the podium at the Burton US Open Series and beyond. Boarders participate in year-round training that is tailored to the individual student-athlete and includes an off-season sport of choice, supplemented with plyometrics training and work in the weight room and trampoline room.

An hour west in Kents Hill, Maine is Kents Hill School. Established in1824, Kents Hill offers a rigorous college preparatory experience, values and promotes the visual and performing arts, provides a wide variety of athletic and extracurricular activities. The Kents Hill snowboard team, which competes during the winter season, is designed for all athletes, from those learning how to compete in the sport to those who are competing at the National (USASA) level. The team is made up of a wide range of riders, from students who are still learning new tricks, to those who can do 720 spins, "rodeo 540's", "cork 540's" and a variety of other tricks. Most competitions are "slope style", but opportunities for half pipe, border cross and even slalom and giant slalom competitions are also available. Kents Hill offers athletes an opportunity to compete at both the high school league level (MAISAD), as well as in USASA events at Sugarloaf and Sunday River, designed for elite athletes attempting to qualify for the Nationals. With access to their own ski hill on campus, student athletes can use a variety of rails and boxes, as well as a 30-foot tabletop jump as well as some smaller features. The team practices every day on the hill and travels to the major areas of Sugarloaf and Sunday River every weekend. The team also has their own locker room in the Liz Cross Mellon Lodge where students keep their equipment and clothing with benches set up for students to tune and wax their snowboards.

Located just 30 miles from Aspen, Colorado, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, founded in 1955, is dedicated to providing authentic learning experiences that contribute to the intellectual, social, and emotional growth of each individual. CRMS also offers a competitive snowboard program that has produced riders of all levels and abilities. On the slopes of Snowmass Mountain, snowboarders spend a majority of their time training in the three terrain parks – the Snowmass Park, the Makaha, and the Lowdown – which contain one 22-foot superpipe and one beginner pipe. Coaches work with athletes to teach progression of skills for free-style riding, as well as different tricks for all levels. Boarders will learn things such as the four directions they can spin and all ways to complete 360s. Students who plan to compete during third quarter are required to attend dryland training in the fall, which consists of a demanding training regimen designed to lay the foundations, both physiologically and technically, for successful riding on snow. During the winter, competitive teams train four days a week, two days on campus and two days on the mountain. Competitive boarders also compete in local events throughout the season.

Many USSA amateur competitions are held locally, in the Aspen Snowmass region, so travel is minimized. Notable alumni of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School's snowboarding program include Ben Pruess, former professional snowboard and current CEO of Holden, maker of premium snow and sportswear and Sabrina Sadeghi, Olympic and World Cup snowboarder.

About three hours north of Aspen, The Lowell Whiteman School encourages is students to strive for their best in the classroom, in the mountains, and around the globe. LWS offers a competitive snowboard program that develops successful student-athletes who are equipped to achieve their long-term personal goals. In conjunction with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC), LWS enables student-athletes to reach individual academic and athletic goals with the support and guidance of committed, experienced, passionate teachers and coaches. Athletes are coached on the mountain by Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coaches through a program steeped in the tradition of producing champions and successful individuals. Boarders have access to Steamboat Ski & Resort, a state-of-the art training facility at Howelsen Hill and the LWS campus, providing ample bumps and jumps, half pipes, excellent alpine runs, tramps, (one on campus) a water ramp, aerial training areas, a Nordic ski jump facility, and miles of Nordic courses, as well as a small ski hill with rails and bumps for freestylers and snowboarders and a large trampoline right on campus. Additionally, an on-campus skateboard ramp helps keep boarders in shape during in the off-season. Training is done at Howelsen Hill and at Mount Werner.

In 2010, SSWSC sent 18 snowboarding athletes to the Vancouver Olympics, including Johnny Spillane, Ryan St. Onge and Michelle Gorgone.

Six hours west in the Wasatch Mountains, Wasatch Academy has built a tradition of excellence that has lasted and steadily improved for 137 years. The school serves a diverse student body, representing twenty-nine countries and twenty-five states. Wasatch Academy's commitment to excellence does not end in the classroom, but extends into the mountains, where snowboarders of all abilities train as a part of the Wasatch Academy Ski and Snowboard Program. This nationally ranked program trains on Wasatch Academy's private snowboard park and mountain featuring wall rides, a cabin quarter-pipe, rails, boxes, and slalom and giant slalom courses. It is also home to the first private snowboard cross racecourse for a North American academy. Each athlete engages in positive interaction with coaches, parents, teammates, and resort and event organizers/employees, while off the slopes, they are pushed to be positive role models in the classroom. Wasatch Academy student-athletes are taught to be responsible, well-organized and learn the value of teamwork. Success is viewed as achievement and improvement instead of competition results.

Whether you're an aspiring Olympic snowboarder or learning how to do new tricks,

Each one of the these schools and their snowboarding programs provide the opportunity to pursue academics and athletics with intensity and seriousness. Student-snowboard athletes will find incredible opportunities to train and compete in state-of-the-art facilities and renowned resorts, while being coached and taught by some of the best in the business.