Stratton Mountain School Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence

What began as a program to combine academics and athletics for a dozen Stratton ski racers has grown in scope and space over 50 years, and now has more than 900 alumni who have graduated to the Ivy League, National Teams and the Olympics, starting with Abby Fisher in Innsbruck ‘76.  

It was 1972 when, “A simple tutoring program to help a few enthusiastic skiing youngsters to keep up with their school work originated in the mind of Donald Tarinelli and Warren Hellman,” according to the Stratton Story. By 1981, the school had moved from the Tarinelli and Hellman chalets to the Hotel Tyrol, and the New York Times reported “Stratton Mountain School is an ambitious attempt to give young skiers opportunities to match those enjoyed by European competitors who ski and train from their Alpine front porches.” 

In 1982, Stratton Mountain School would become the first ski academy in the United States to earn accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. 

Since the first class graduated in 1974, more than 100 athletes have been named to National Teams and 46 have competed in the Olympics. This February, 10 SMS athletes are vying for medals in Freeski Big Air/Slopestyle, SBX, Nordic, Biathlon and Halfpipe.  

In this 50th anniversary season, inductees in the newly created Stratton Mountain School Hall of Fame were named during Saturday’s virtual Winter Ball, with the official ceremony set for June 11, 2022.  

“The Hall of Fame Committee is proud to induct The Hellman and Tarinelli Families as our first-ever Special Inductees,” announced Trustee Darcy Ahl.  

 “Simply put, there would be no Stratton Mountain School without the Hellmans and the Tarinellis. Donald Tarinelli and Warren Hellman conceived of a school for talented Alpine skiers who did not want to sacrifice their academics for their sport. They opened up their homes, recruited top-notch teachers and coaches, and, for many years, served as SMS’s best and loudest cheerleaders.” 

Five athletes were also chosen for the inaugural induction, listed in order of graduation year.  

For her achievement in Alpine skiing and, in particular, her influence and leadership in the sport of professional women’s skiing, we are pleased to induct US Ski Team member, NCAA All-American, and the only skier to win the North American, South American and World Extreme titles in a single season, Kim Reichhelm, SMS Class of 1978. 

For her world-class athletic achievements in both alpine ski racing and mountain biking, as well as her courage in opening a dialog around the subject of mental health, we are pleased to induct Juli Furtado, SMS class of 1985. 

For her lifelong dedication to alpine skiing, we are pleased to induct 3-time Olympian, 12-year veteran of the US Ski Team, and Giant Slalom National Champion Heidi Voelker, SMS Class of 1987. 

For her outstanding leadership on the field and on the hill, we are pleased to induct three-time all-American NCAA soccer player, Athens Olympics Gold medal-winning goalkeeper, WUSA goalkeeper of the year, and ESPY nominee for world’s best women’s soccer player Kristen Luckenbill, SMS Class of 1997. 

For his World Champion and Olympic achievements in snowboarding and his tireless efforts to create a level playing field for all, we are pleased to induct 2-time Olympic medal winner, founder of the Level Field Fund, and Director of the SMS Snowboard program Ross Powers, SMS Class of 1997.” 

SMS launched the Snowboard Program in 1993 and Ross was recruited to join by Scott Palmer, the first director and an original Burton Team Rider. Snowboarding made its Olympic debut in 1998 and Ross won Bronze.  

He would go on to win Halfpipe Gold in 2002, on his 23rd birthday, dominating with a score of 46.1 in a run that started with a historic 20-foot Method Air, leading the way to the first US podium sweep since 1956. He came back to his alma mater as Snowboard Program Director in 2010, a program that his daughter Victoria joined, graduating with the class of 2021.  

The Nordic Program was established in 1977, and was named Nordic Club of the Year by the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association in 2003. Freeski began in 2010, the elite SMST2 in 2012, and Freestyle Skiing in 2013. 

For fall 1999, a new campus opened on World Cup Circle with the academic building, Big Dorm, Burtscher Field House and Garthwaite Green. Expansions and additions would follow, including the Patti Kaltsas Education, Arts and Student Center, the groundbreaking Air Awareness Center, now named Simpson Center for Action Sports, and Greg Needell Strength & Conditioning Center.  

In 2017, U.S. Ski and Snowboard designated SMS as a Development Site and High Performance Training Center. 

And in 2022, Stratton Mountain School celebrates its Golden Anniversary with a Hall of Fame ceremony, eyes on Bejing and Headmaster Carson Thurber’s (SMS ‘02) vision for the future, that “is built upon a commitment to continuing the trajectory we’ve been on for the past 50 years, and ensuring that it continues to trend upwards.” 

As U.S. Ski & Snowboard President Gale “Tiger” Shaw (SMS ‘77) notes in the school’s Starting Gate magazine, “…  the things that SMS has achieved have been extraordinary in many ways. Further refining the formula and continuing to bring lifelong, passionate dedicated families to our sports is what’s going to drive the life of our industry going forward.” 

For more on Stratton Mountain School programs, history and summer celebrations, visit Follow the competitors at 

NOTE: Thank you to The Starting Gate Magazine and timeline celebrating 50 years of excellence.