EAST BURKE — Burke Mountain Academy celebrated the grand opening of the Ronnie Berlack Center, a $2.8 million, 15,000 square foot, state of the art indoor athletic facility this past weekend, marking a new era for the athletic development of Burke student-athletes and ski racers around the country.
The academy also announced a comprehensive new partnership with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association for year round training and development of elite ski racers from around the Eastern region and around the U.S.
Luke Bodensteiner, executive vice president of athletics for USSA, was on hand for Saturday’s dedication and officially named the new center as a U.S. Ski Team High Performance Center and Burke Mountain Academy’s on-hill training venue as a U.S. Ski Team Development Site. It will be the first of what Bodensteiner hopes will be many such centers around the country.
“Today’s announcement that Burke Mountain will be named as a High Performance Training Center for the U.S. Ski Team is a strong endorsement of Vermont’s ability to offer world-class winter training facilities and outdoor recreation destinations,” Governor-elect Phil Scott said.
As a U.S. Ski Team High Performance Center, Burke will collaborate with the USSA’s Park City based Center of Excellence and other future high performance centers to share best practices in sport science and sports medicine and serve as a site to host training and education sessions for USSA clubs in the region. As U.S. Ski Team Development Site, Burke will provide training days on its mountain for regional and national development projects, as well as access for U.S. Ski Team athletes.
“The relationship with Burke Mountain Academy, both at its alpine training venue on Burke Mountain and at the new Ronnie Berlack High Performance Center, is part of our vision to partner with leading clubs and programs around the country, not only to provide world class training opportunities for the U.S. Ski Team, but also to bring U.S. Ski Team knowledge and programming to the regions through our partners, with the goal of building the best athletic development pipeline in the world,” said USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw.
The new center and improved mountain racing venue at Burke will be easily accessible to skiers throughout the East, which includes over half the USSA’s more than 35,000 members. These skiers, along with national team athletes, will be able to train at Burke Mountain and use the center in conjunction with their clubs through rental agreements with Burke Mountain.
Burke Mountain Resort is participating in the initiative with attractive ski ticket and accommodation packages at its brand new slope side Burke Mountain Hotel Resort & Conference Center, aimed at making Burke Mountain a destination ski resort for alpine ski racers.
Burke Mountain Academy attained the required $2.8 million funding for the building’s conception, construction and short term operational expense coverage over a nine-month silent campaign. A second fundraising phase was recently launched to create a $6 million endowment fund to support the ongoing development and implementation of high performance programming including the hiring of expert staff and the purchase of sophisticated training, rehab and testing equipment.
“This project would not have been possible without the significant contributions of highly engaged and dedicated BMA students, parents, alumni and donors,” shared Willy Booker, Chairman of BMA’s board of trustees and alumnus from the class of ‘96. “We’re eager to keep the momentum going with the next phase of fundraising to ensure this project produces major value for the entire ski community.”