Ski Racers Struggle to Keep up with Schoolwork on the Road

Sarah Bennett is a junior at Northwood and is one of the top North American ski racers in her age group. In this essay, she describes the challenges ski racers face to stay on top of their school work during the ski season.

When it comes to ski racers, especially on the FIS level, missing school is common. Missing five school days in a week can be pretty normal during the season. Compared to any other sport offered at the school, skiing is the most time-consuming. Even though Northwood is accommodating for students to be able to miss some school, the busy ski racing schedule makes it very difficult to catch up on all the assignments that I miss, especially after being absent for a couple weeks.


On an average race day, inspection starts at 9am and the race usually goes until 2pm. If the race occurred at the end of a race series, nets will have to be taken down the hill, which could take up to an hour. When I arrive back at the hotel, I have to prep my skis for the following races. With this kind of schedule, it is very hard to fit in any type of work.

Since mountains are usually not close to each other and far from Lake Placid, I have a lot of time on the road, which means missing more school to travel. Some camps and races involve taking a plane and traveling to places in different time zones, which can make communicating with teachers difficult.

Northwood’s traditional academic schedule involves having all students take every class every day, and it’s challenging to have to focus on every class every day. If we had a block schedule, with longer classes that don’t meet every day, it would be easier to catch up on work by having to focus on fewer classes each day. Off periods would also be longer, allowing more time to meet with teachers.

Another helpful solution would be for teachers who take a lot of notes on the board, to use an interactive SMART Board, which allows everything written on the board to be saved and shared. Sure, a student who attended class can send the traveling student the notes by taking pictures of their notebook pages, but the notes are often incomplete or inaccurate, and the photo can be difficult to read. I have found that most of the best note-takers in my classes are involved in other sports, so their notes are missing pages from the days they missed. Having a SMART Board in a classroom where teachers take lots of notes on the board would mean that the teachers could send all of the notes taken during class, directly to the student. Mr. Ben Runyon was my geometry teacher, and he uses a SMART Board, which was very helpful. Having his class notes while I was away from school made it much easier to understand the concepts. I wasn’t the same as being in class, but it was close.

Although Northwood is a school where teachers are accommodating for students who miss school for their sport, I think the suggestions I made here could make the school even more welcoming to elite student-athletes. The number of students who miss school often because of their sport or co-curricular activity will only increase at Northwood. The school has to adapt to these changes and use technology to facilitate the student’s ability to learn while not being in class.


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