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December 28, 2013

A life on the slopes

Carrabassett Valley Academy senior, Liam Bechtel really can’t say when he started skiing, it’s been that long.

“I don’t really go to the beach that much,” Bechtel admitted. “I’m better at skiing then I am walking.”

Skiing is a way of life for the Bechtel family, the Newburyport native and his family would go to Sugarloaf Mountain every weekend for as long as he can remember and when it came time for high school, Bechtel could think of no better place than CVA which is nestled at the bottom of the mount.

“It’s really awesome that I get to do it and I am really lucky,” says Bechtel. “It’s a college-prep school, so you’re expected to go to college after. We take all high school classes. I’m taking Calculus and Physics and English. I took four years of Spanish.”

It was the Alpine Leadership Pursuits for Skiers and Snowboarders (ALPS) program that drew and keeps Bechtel in Carrabassett Valley. A non-competitive backcountry and ski mountaineering team, ALPS teaches its athletes the necessary skills to safely negotiate mountainous terrain on both the ascent and descent. The disciplines include, introductory mountaineering skills, steep skiing techniques, snow science, backcountry travel/camping, and wilderness medicine. At its conclusion, each ALPS graduate is expected to have the knowledge and physical ability to explore the mountains of the world, or as Bechtel put it more succinctly; “Some days we’ll ski at the resort, then some days we’ll go out in the backcountry and shred.”

A normal day at CVS starts with four hours of skiing then classes until dark, then it’s homework and bed and the slopes await once again in the morning.

“We do all the normal high school classes and when we go on trips, the teachers send us all the tests and stuff,” said Bechtel who recently returned from a ski trip to Utah and is headed to British Columbia after the Christmas break. The 18-year-old has also skied in Germany and Austria and counts La Meije in La Grave France as his favorite destination so far and with eight other team members ages 14 and up, Bechtel can often find himself in a leadership role.

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