WEST DOVER — The Matterhorn Inn is poised to become Mount Snow Academy's new campus next winter season.
"We're hoping everything goes through. It seems like a really nice bunch of people to work with," said Joe Kruszewski, inn owner. "They're going through zoning and inspections. So far, it's looking good. We're going to miss the place and the (Deerfield) Valley if we move out of here."
Joe and his wife Wanda Kruszewski have owned the inn for the last 12 years.
The announcement of a purchase sale agreement was made at the academy's annual gala held at the Hermitage Inn on Feb. 20. Approximately 180 people attended, according to Head of School Todd Ormiston.
"Since the announcement, there's just been an outpouring of encouragement from kids, coaches and parents," Ormiston said, also noting the community's support. "Anyone I run into in the Deerfield Valley says, 'Great. The school's always needed it.'"
He expects to close on the property towards the end of September with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to follow over Columbus Day Weekend.
Ormiston said he looked at a lot of facilities around the valley over the last several months. His priorities included safety, convenient access to amenities and ski areas, and appropriateness for academic and residential settings.
"This ended up being a collaboration between us and the owners," he said. "It will probably be close to minimally doubling if not tripling what we have access to now."
Joe Kruszewski said he and Wanda have been very happy running the inn, and love the valley and the people in it.
"We will be sticking around. We have some property not too far from the valley," he added. "The place was not for sale. They approached us and I guess we came to terms."
The inn hosted several coaches, teams and ski clubs throughout the years and this week is no different. Joe said guests will be coming from Colorado to compete in the Carinthia Freeski Open on Friday and Saturday. The all terrain-park face of Mount Snow, known as Carinthia, is where the event takes place.
During the Dew Tour stops at Mount Snow, Joe said, "Everyone was here with us."
What he will miss most are the guests, he said.
"We are just shocked at how nice people really are. In all the years, I don't know if we had two or three kind-of-bad experiences. But otherwise, all our guests become our friends and come back again," said Joe. "I'm probably going to miss the snowmobilers the most because their trail goes through our property."
MSA has been around for 35 years. For the last 20 years or so, the school shared space with the Mount Snow Ski Club and kept a house at Snow Vidda where 11 to 13 students usually stay. The Snow Vidda complex is located right next to the base of Mount Snow's ski resort.
"We're trying to get to the point where we have our own home and we got pretty good momentum to make that happen," said Ormiston. "We just haven't had enough space. The Ski Club has been adequate for allowing us to work with kids but it hasn't been an academic environment."
Also needed was access to athletic facilities. That will be built into the system at the Matterhorn, said Ormiston. He said the inn offers plenty of room for living, learning and training off the slopes. The building was measured at 15,000 square feet.
Ormiston is focused now on getting a conditional-use permit from the town. He has applied to the zoning office.
The goal is to have between 50 and 60 students attending the academy. Currently, the school has 25 kids in the three disciplines of freeskiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding.
"Our numbers really have been in alpine and freeskiing," Ormiston said. "We're also really focused on trying to rebuild the number in our snowboard program."
Riding boards at MSA are four students. Ormiston anticipates the number growing to six or seven next year and eight to 10 in the build-out. He said he thinks freeskiing has attracted some of the would-be boarders but noted the strength of the program that graduated three-time Olympic medalist winner Kelly Clark.
A new course of study set to roll out next year is called Edit School. Ormiston describes it as a program for kids who are "high-aspiring" snow sport athletes in the freeskiing and snowboarding fields but want to take still shots, edit video and learn the marketing and networking aspects that go on in the industry.
"Really, the media side of the sport is booming especially for high school kids who love the sport. They love competing at other levels but the X Games are not necessarily their goal," said Ormiston, adding that there's no other ski academy program like it in the United States. "We're certainly not getting away from the competition side but we're helping to support that unrepresented group of kids."
Training and contests will still be part of it but two days a week might be dedicated to filming or editing. The concept of the program began getting molded about a month ago. A website for content is being built now.
Ormiston is proud of the academic programs. He calls the classes "conversational education" in which teachers work with students one-on-one to ensure they're keeping up with their home school assignments.
"It's a deep dive on a personal level with a teacher," he said. "We know as an adult, the way you're going to learn is not only by sharing ideas but also receiving ideas."
Students are out on the hill training at Mount Snow during the week and the Hermitage Club's private ski resort at Haystack Mountain on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This season marked the second one where students went to Haystack on weekends.
Contact Chris Mays at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.