Rowmark Ski Academy
By combining world-class skiing with a leading academic program, we foster growth and resilience in our student-athletes. When they graduate, they're prepared for whatever path they take.
If you care about academics and athletics, there is only one academy in the country that really makes the cut, and that's Rowmark.—Rick Bleil, Rowmark Ski Academy parent
In 1982, Rowmark Ski Academy was founded as a division of Rowland Hall, the premier college-preparatory school in Salt Lake City. Just over three decades later, in 2014, Rowmark proudly became one of the first clubs designated for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s (USSA) highest Gold Certification level. Rowmark skiers are full-time ninth through twelfth graders at Rowland Hall. Here you find a rigorous, year-round racing program coupled with an extraordinary academic high school. There's nothing quite like it in North America.
ROWMARK AT A GLANCE
COACH : ATHLETE RATIO
1 coach : 6 athletes
Academy: Ninth grade through postgraduate
Junior Program: Third through eighth grade
Academic program: Late August to early June. Conditioning program: Year round. Includes four off-season camps—Mammoth (June), Mt. Hood (August), and Colorado (October and November).
March 1 annually. Later applications may be considered on an individual basis.
Without boarding: $38,880–$39,755
With boarding: $47,880–$48,755
Yes; also need-based financial aid.
843 Lincoln Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
Phone: 801-355-3943 / Fax: 801-355-0474
Troy PriceRowmark Junior Director
Wendy HareTeam Manager and Academic Coordinator
Head U16 Coach
Head Men's U19-21 Coach
Head Women's U19-21 Coach,
Head Conditioning Coach
U16 Coach, Conditioning Coach,
U16 Academic Facilitator
Men's U19-21 Coach,
Lauren Samuels ’11
Coach and Academic Liaison
The 30 Rowmark Ski Academy athletes are full-time students at Rowland Hall and make up about 10% of the high school student body. We offer an unparalleled combination of academics and ski racing for our student-athletes.
The Rowmark Junior Program offers an after-school/weekend ski program for Rowland Hall students in third through eighth grades and is designed to foster a lifelong appreciation of alpine skiing and racing. We develop young skiers from beginner to elite alpine levels, with the aim to produce all-around versatile skiers.
Rowland Hall and Rowmark Ski Academy alumnus A.J. Oliver ’07 and Marcus Caston—a Rowmark postgraduate skier from 2007 to 2009—grace the powdery screen in Timeless, the latest Warren Miller Entertainment movie getting skiers stoked for winter.
Though Marcus has been in several Warren Miller movies, Timeless is A.J.’s first. Both Rowmark alums have turned skiing into their livelihoods and are backed by big-name sponsors such as Patagonia, Head, Helly Hansen, and POC. A.J. is currently a ski instructor at Big Sky Resort and an outdoor guide in the off-season—read his recent profile in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. And Marcus has a robust résumé that includes several magazine covers—read his 2017 Ski magazine profile.
A.J. and Marcus expect to be at the following local showings of Timeless. Catch them before or after the movie and tell them hi, from Rowland Hall and Rowmark.
Jeanne Wagner Theatre, Salt Lake City
Thursday, October 24, at 7 pm
Friday, October 25, at 6 and 9 pm
Eccles Center, Park City
Saturday, October 26, at 6 pm
The duo also stopped by the Rowmark office October 23 for a Q&A with staff, including Rowmark Director Todd Brickson. Watch the video on the Rowmark Facebook page, or read the highlights below, edited for length and context.
A.J., how did Rowland Hall shape you?
A.J.: The education that you get here is second to none. It really prepares you for when you go to college. I remember sliding into freshman year pretty comfortably and not feeling like I was overwhelmed or underprepared. I went to Rocky Mountain College in Billings, and it was very natural moving to a small liberal arts school from Rowland Hall because the curriculum is similar.
And how did Rowmark shape both of you?
Marcus: When I was here as a PG I was just focused on skiing and that was my life. It teaches you how to buckle down, focus on one thing, and work hard.
A.J.: Rowland Hall prepares you in some of the same ways, but being in a program structured like Rowmark, you learn to hold yourself accountable and get out there and do the work, and that's the only way you're going to get where you want to go. And so that sticks with you moving forward—that sense of self-accountability.
What’s your favorite Rowmark memory?
Whenever we get back together there's definitely a sense of camaraderie and a bond that doesn't go away.—Rowmark/Rowland Hall alum A.J. Oliver ’07
A.J.: [Laughs] I might get Todd in trouble, but trust-falling off the top of the short bus at Bear Lake. Man, that's a fall—right off the top of the ski rack. That one sticks with me for sure.
Marcus: The people I got to ski with. You become family, you spend all your time together throughout the winter traveling, and you get to know one another. And that's something that at the time you take for granted, but you don't really have that in life—a group of people you go out and ski with and spend time with every day.
Do you keep up with people from your cohorts?
A.J.: Absolutely. This week in particular has been exciting. I’m looking forward to a few days at home and seeing old classmates and teammates. Whenever we get back together there's definitely a sense of camaraderie and a bond that doesn't go away.
What was it like to be in a Warren Miller production?
Marcus: I went to Chamonix, and I’ve always wanted to go. It’s legendary in the ski world. If you’re a skier, you know Chamonix has the biggest and steepest mountains, so it’s known for its extreme skiing. I was pretty nervous going into it just because you build it up in your head, and the hype is real. It’s steep, and it’s icy, and it’s scary. But lucky for me, conditions weren’t in for the steep stuff, so I got to kind of ease my way in a little bit. And being in Europe is always great—it’s just a cool ski experience. Skiing is life over there—they’ve got it down: huts and good food up on the mountain.
A.J.: It was a blast. It was an all-new experience. It was super cool to call Marcus after growing up skiing together and kind of dreaming if this would ever happen. It’s cool to be on the big screen together. I got to go to the Monashee Range in British Columbia and ski with another PSA [Professional Ski Instructors of America] instructor, Brenna Kelleher, who is a sibling of another Rowmark alum, Keely Kelleher ’03. And then Glen Plake tagged along on our trip, so that was a blast. It was super fun to ski with a guy who’s such an industry icon and to learn from him and draw from his experience.
Tell us about Glen Plake.
A.J.: Glen Plake is the most famous mohawk in skiing.
Marcus: He was a mogul skier. He was in all the original Greg Stump films and a bunch of Warren Miller films. He’s the guy who kind of started what we do. He’s the man.
You grew up watching him. So what was it like to actually ski with him in a movie?
A.J.: It was everything I’d hoped it would be. He is everything that he exudes on camera—that’s not an act. He is just a to-the-core skier and he loves it.
Marcus: I was pretty jealous [laughter]; I didn’t ski with him. It’s funny—the director called me up and said, ‘We’re going up to Canada. Do you know A.J. Oliver?’ I was like, ‘No way. Yes. How do I get on this trip?’” I never did.
A.J.: You were thinking you might be able to be the tripod guy there for a minute.
Marcus: I was trying to go hold bags just so I could go hang out.
What were your favorite parts of filming Timeless?
I was with these two World Cup slalom skiers, they were skiing these big mountains for the first time, and that was really cool. I look up to them.—Marcus Caston, Rowmark PG 2007–2009
A.J.: Skiing with Glen was definitely a takeaway. Just being able to be around him and draw from that experience. It’s super cool to hear his stories and all the places he’s been. The Monashees are cool, though. It was some new terrain and that’s always fun. It’s a blast getting to do stuff you haven’t done before. It was fun to explore the Monashees, because those are the Rocky Mountains. They know how to do it in Canada.
Marcus: I got to film with Erin Mielzynski, who races World Cup for Canada, and Mattias Hargin, who is a Swedish World Cup slalom skier—he won the Kitzbuehel slalom and just recently retired. This was their first film shoot, too. So I was with these two World Cup slalom skiers, they were skiing these big mountains for the first time, and that was really cool. I look up to them. Mattias is a good freeskier. Erin grew up in eastern Canada ski racing on this little hill. She never goes freeskiing, so it was really cool to see somebody who, skiing is their entire life, and they get to experience the sport in a different way. So that was the highlight of my trip for me, was to watch Erin experience a different side of skiing.
Why should people see this movie?
Marcus: It’s the kickoff to winter. Some people have been coming out every year for 50 years—it’s tradition. There’s something for everybody. It’s a great adventure, there’s amazing cinematography, and it’s just fun.
A.J.: Seeing a Warren Miller film really embodies the community that is our industry. Any time that we can have a nice social gathering around skiing, that’s always a good thing.
What are your future skiing goals and plans?
That’s one of the great things about this sport. If you do it for life you get addicted to that pursuit of always getting better.—A.J. Oliver ’07
A.J.: That’s always a tough one to answer because it’s the ever-changing answer. Things are always evolving. But in five to 10 years, hopefully I’m still teaching skiing and trying to get better. That’s one of the great things about this sport. If you do it for life you get addicted to that pursuit of always getting better. So my goals for five to 10 years from now are to still be learning and growing, and hopefully spending as many days on snow as I can.
Marcus: I’m down with short-term goals.
A.J.: Like, what am I going to eat for breakfast? [Laughs]
Marcus: If you’re like, ‘In five years I’m going to be right here,’ then you might have an opportunity that you miss. Whereas if you’re living in the moment, you may take more in.
A.J.: Goal-setting with Marcus and A.J.
What do you do in the off-season for training and for fun?
A.J.: I try to wrap my training and my fun up in the same activity. I’ve been trying to stay in shape and not have to go to the gym. In the off-season I do a lot of mountain biking. I ride my horse a fair amount, which isn’t the most aerobic thing in the world. But when you’re hiking around the woods and running around the backcountry all summer, that usually keeps you in shape.
Marcus: Horseback riding is good for your legs, though, right?
A.J.: Yeah, it is a lot of lower-body strength. I also do a little bit of rock climbing when this guy will drag me.
Hiking and climbing are also really good mentally. Skiing can be scary, so if you can scare yourself every once in awhile in the summer, it’s not so scary when you get back on skis.—Marcus Caston
Marcus: I do a lot of hiking and climbing. It’s nice to stay outside and in the mountains. Hiking and climbing are also really good mentally. Skiing can be scary, so if you can scare yourself every once in awhile in the summer, it’s not so scary when you get back on skis.
What advice do you have for Rowmarkers and other young skiers who want to do what you do?
A.J.: The biggest thing is just staying in it—having the resolve to be in skiing and the industry and not have anything else be an option. If you’re in it for long enough, people decide to do other stuff and they fall away. But if you’re committed to it, things are going to happen for you. It’s definitely a small and welcoming industry if you have the drive to be part of it.
Marcus: Love skiing and love whatever it is you do. Making movies is not easy. It’s hard and it’s cold. Sometimes it gets really tough—you can be sitting there waiting for the light for two hours. I was in Norway a couple of years ago and we were on top of this mountain and the clouds came in. We had to build an igloo, and we sat in this little igloo, freezing for six hours because we couldn’t see anything. You just have to remind yourself why you’re there: because you love skiing and everything that comes with it—the traveling and all the people. And that’s not just for skiing, that’s everything. Just love what you do. And advice to Rowmarkers would be enjoy it now because life gets harder...It’s still fun, but not as fun.
A.J.: Don’t take it too seriously now because you’ll have plenty of time to be serious when you get older. Have fun.
Top: A.J. Oliver skis in Timeless. (Photo by SkyScope)
We are thrilled to announce three Rowmark Ski Academy alumnae have been named to the 2018–2019 US Ski & Snowboard Alpine Team. Named to the A Team are Breezy Johnson '13 and postgraduate Alice McKennis '08. Katie Hensien '18 has been named to the C Team. This is Breezy's fourth year on the team, Alice's seventh year, and Katie's second year.
According to Rowmark Academy Program Director Todd Brickson, "Alice, Breezy, and Katie were all model Rowmarkers and we couldn't be more proud to have them represent Rowmark as members of the US Ski Team. Most importantly, all three athletes are kind, humble, and incredibly hard working and have earned everything that has come their way. To kick off the season, Katie starts in her third World Cup SL race in Killington, Vermont, next week as one of the youngest members of the US Team and we look forward to cheering her on."
Selection criteria for the US Alpine Team is based on results and rankings from the 2017–2018 season. To read the full alpine team roster announcement, visit the US Ski Team webpage.
Read more about these Rowmark athletes:
Team Member Photo Credit: US Ski & Snowboard Team
Troy Price, Rowmark Ski Academy's beloved junior program director since 2010, in May added national accolades to his already long list of accomplishments. US Ski and Snowboard named him the 2018 Development Coach of the Year, one of only two top coaching awards they bestow annually.
US Ski and Snowboard initially selected Troy as the 2018 Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year, one of 14 silver-level coaching awards for various disciplines, including snowboarding, cross country, and ski jumping. From that group of 14 winners, only one is picked to receive the gold-level, cross-discipline honor of Development Coach of the Year.
Neither Troy nor Rowmark Director Todd Brickson knew Intermountain Division (IMD) Director Carma Burnett had nominated Troy for the initial award. Appropriately enough, Troy learned he'd won that title while he was at Canada's Whistler Cup overseeing the Western Region's U14 team—a team that existed thanks in part to his vision. With his award, Troy joins a list of past winners whom he considers legends within the sport. "It's a little humbling to be on there," he said.
Not everyone's as modest: Rowmark Director Todd Brickson said Troy was "so deserving" of the recognition. Troy loves what he does, cares deeply, and is intelligent and well-organized, Todd said. "Not only is he directing our junior program and driving really sound athlete development within Rowmark," Todd said, "but Troy is reaching out beyond our program to make our division better. It therefore makes our program better. And now he's also creating regional projects and philosophies that make the whole West better." That big-picture scope is rare, Todd said, and ultimately benefits skiing at the national level too.
US Ski and Snowboard summarized Troy's efforts in a news release: "He established the division's development committee nine years ago and has served as committee chair since its inception, playing a key role in managing development projects, running the Tri-Divisional Championships," and fielding the regional team for the Whistler Cup. And in her nomination letter, Carma wrote that "Troy IS Development in the IMD Alpine Division." Read her letter here.
"I hope I have been able to convey how passionate and amazing Troy Price is when it comes to developing athletes," Carma concluded her letter. "He pays as much attention to the 'elite' athletes as he does to the 'last pick.' IMD is fortunate to have his energy and input."
Rowmark and Rowland Hall alumna Sofia Yubero '17 has known Troy since she was seven years old, and as a seventh grader started at Rowmark Junior under his direction. Some of the IMD events she and her peers got to compete in wouldn't have existed without Troy, she explained. And of course, he goes above and beyond in his leadership roles: "Even if he's running the race, he's cycling the chairlift and bringing food and drinks to all the other volunteers," she said. "He's extremely organized and knows how to achieve his agenda. No one works harder for what they want than Troy, and he's a true role model."
Immediately above: Troy Price (far left, bottom) with his Rowmark Junior crew in March.
Top of page: Troy Price, right, with US Ski and Snowboard Chairman Dexter Paine during the Chairman's Awards Dinner in Park City May 3.
At Rowmark, Troy focuses on the athlete as a whole, from ski racing to good sportsmanship to academics. One career highlight, for instance, came when rising sophomore Tommy Hoffman, as a seventh grader, won the region's first U14 event—an event Troy had proposed. "To have a Rowmark kid win it, that was awesome," he said. But what was so memorable about the event was how Tommy took the initiative to shake the hands of the other top-10 finishers before stepping onto his podium. "He showed respect to his competitors," Troy said. "That sportsmanship was a true reflection of our program."
Troy's positive, inclusive coaching style and inimitable work ethic has absolutely benefitted Rowmark, Todd said. "When Troy first took the job, our junior program wasn't really a feeder program," the director said. "We would gain zero to one or two kids moving into our junior program for the academy and had to recruit most of our skiers from all over the country and internationally." But as a result of Troy's work, the junior program has become a primary feeder for the academy, and skiers coming from the junior program are well-prepared to meet the demands of the Rowmark/Rowland Hall lifestyle.
Troy doesn't mince words: he's put in long days to achieve his myriad goals. It helps that he's eerily organized—he holds an accounting degree from Weber State University and worked in that field before leaving to pursue his coaching passion. Though he switched careers, accounting strategies stuck with him: "There are a few coaches out there who nicknamed me Mr. Spreadsheet," Troy joked. But even the spreadsheets hold deeper meaning for Troy. Once he's formed a relationship with a Rowmarker or any IMD skier, he keeps an eye on their careers. "It's exciting when I'm creating a ranking sheet and I see an athlete succeed or make a championship event, and I know I may have had a small impact in that."
And it's just that: at the root of it all, Troy is an amazing coach who knows how to motivate his skiers. "During each of the last three years in a row, Troy's U14 athletes have qualified for the U16 Nationals," Carma wrote in her letter. "More so they continue to have success as they advance their ski-racing journey."
Sofia can vouch for Troy's impactfulness. She took a postgraduate year and is currently recovering from injuries, but hopes to ski for Middlebury College, where she'll be a freshman in the fall. "I definitely wouldn't be the person or athlete I am today if it weren't for Troy," she said. "He's been in my life for so long, and we've spent so much time together that he's essentially like a second father to me. But besides our close, personal connection, as a coach, he taught me about the value of work ethic and the importance of goal setting. There's nothing like grueling workouts in the summer and fall heat, but somehow Troy always made us excited to work towards our in-season goals that were months away."
And through his coaching style and his talent, Troy simply inspires a love for the sport, Sofia said. She still remembers sprinting against him during physical testing when she was younger: "Following him on a powder day around Snowbasin is one of the best things because he knows the mountain so well," she said. "Plus, he's an insane skier. I loved skiing behind him and trying to mimic his every move." Troy cultivated a fun atmosphere, Sofia explained, because he knows the competition aspect of the sport eventually comes to an end. Rather, he focuses on the promise that "if our love of skiing is strong enough, we—his athletes—will continue to ski for the rest of our lives."
Katie Hensien started her Rowmark Ski Academy career strong with a U16 slalom national championship in Sugarloaf, Maine, back in 2015. Rowmark Director Todd Brickson still remembers the middle of Katie's second run, when she suddenly and precariously skied on one foot as the other flew into the air.
"She didn't fall, but picture one ski on the ground and one ski near her head," Todd said, crediting Katie's flexibility. "It all happens in one moment and then she regains her balance and keeps going."
Katie, now a senior, laughed knowingly at Todd's memory. "I did that in Davos too," she said, referencing her fourth-place slalom finish January 31 at the World Junior Championships in Switzerland.
Katie's incredible recovery to win that U16 title epitomizes her style, Todd said. "She goes all out, she attacks, but she's also a smart skier," he explained. Rowmarkers and their families know all too well that ski racing isn't a judged sport—it's simply about clocking the fastest time. "It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be pretty, and Katie gets that," Todd said.
Katie modestly paints her past year in ski racing as one of ups and downs. But her career has generally followed an upward trajectory, and she's performed in increasingly competitive races:
- She had a spectacular 2016–2017 season with her first NorAm top 10, plus four International Ski Federation victories in slalom and giant slalom.
- In May, the US Ski Team named Katie an alpine C-Team member—the youngest American to qualify.
- This winter, she earned her first two World Cup slalom starts, one of which also entailed her first European competition.
- In Davos, her first World Juniors, she finished as the top American and fourth overall, a mere 0.71 seconds shy of a podium spot.
US Ski & Snowboard Alpine Development Director Chip Knight told Ski Racing Media Katie had a great day in Davos and skied well in a heavily stacked event. "She more than held her own," he said, adding she finished third in her second run, and in both runs she was very fast on the bottom of the course.
Katie's World Juniors outcome is even more impressive given an unprecedented blow in her personal life: less than two weeks beforehand, she learned her grandfather, Gil Hensien, had passed away. The 18-year-old had never before lost a family member. "It was hard to deal with that and keep moving forward," she said. "He was kind of an idol of mine." Gil had always supported her racing—even if he didn't entirely understand it—but never got a chance to see her in action. So in Davos, she penned "♥ G. Hensien" on a piece of tape and stuck it on her helmet, front and center. With that dedication, he joined her in spirit on the slope. "Now that he got to watch me, I'm happy," she said.
The positive Davos result initially left Katie "speechless," she said with a smile. But beneath the surface, the new career highlight stoked her motivation. "When I can put two solid runs together, nothing is impossible," she reasoned, "just more hard work."
Her determination and ability to learn from past races paid off February 16 in Whiteface, New York. She landed second in the slalom and secured her first NorAm podium, achieving a primary goal for the season.
"It feels great as we head into NorAm finals to recognize that I have the speed needed to challenge for the top of the podium," she wrote on her blog.
She certainly has the speed, and she also has the support. Katie's devoted parents moved their family to Park City from Seattle so she could attend Rowmark. She looked at a few other ski academies, but one chat with Todd and she was hooked.
"I knew right away that was what I wanted," Katie said of meeting Todd and hearing about Rowmark in person. "He's really confident in his athletes and he's determined to make them as successful as possible in school and skiing."
So her folks made it happen, and now they love Utah just as much as their daughter does. The Hensiens, naturally, are known for their optimism. "Katie's parents are the two most positive people I think I've ever met, and she has that same personality trait," Todd said. "It just helps her in so many ways."
Katie said her down-to-earth mom sparked her love of athletics and always told her she could play any sport she wanted, as long as she enjoyed it. Accordingly, Katie still makes time for mountain biking and hiking with her new German Shepherd, Jess. Her passion for skiing, appropriately enough, started with a family trip to Whistler, British Columbia. As reported in the Park Record, the Hensiens put three-year-old Katie in ski school for the day: "When they dropped her off, she cried because she didn't want to ski," reporter Ben Ramsey wrote. "But by the end of the day, she cried because she didn't want to leave."
As a senior set to graduate in June, Katie will soon leave Rowland Hall—but not without happy memories and lifelong friends, many of whom are Rowmarkers. Though she applied to college, Katie is keeping her options open for next year. Dreams of competing in the Olympics occupy the back of her mind, but she's taking a zen approach to it all. "I'll keep striving for it," she said. "But wherever my path takes me, I'm just going to go with it."