Sophia Gardner RVMS Skier

Rising RVMS Student Thanks Teachers, Admin for a Successful Competitive Ski Season
Posted on 04/16/2021
Sophia Gardner, Ranch View Middle SchoolBy Francie Billings

Sophia Gardner was only five years old when she started skiing the bunny hills at the Loveland Ski Club. What started out as learning skiing fundamentals evolved into a passion for a sport. By the age of seven, Sophia began competing in mini ski races that advanced her confidence and skills. Her father, Bill Gardner, recalls when Sophia had entered a race in Winter Park. It concluded with her standing on the podium as the Third Place Winner with a metal around her neck. Bill said that was the spark that ignited Sophia’s fire and love of competitive ski racing.

Now Sophia is a 13 year old Ranch View Middle School (RVMS) student who competes on a grander scale. Most recently, Sophia qualified in the U14 division for the Rocky Mountain Division Junior Championships at Steamboat Springs Ski Resort in March. Sophia fired out of the gates in the women’s slalom races, finishing in the Top 10.

Sophia Gardner, Ranch View Middle SchoolSuccess at this level for any invested athlete involves a village of supporters, and Sophia’s journey is no different. In the past couple of years, Sophia was only missing school on Friday afternoons. However, COVID-19 changed the landscape of competitive skiing this past winter. Races that were generally held on weekends were moved to weekdays to limit the draw of large crowds and to meet crowd restrictions. Sophia decided to join the Five Day Team, which meant missing more school than she had previously. Fortunately, Sophia’s village includes Ranch View Middle School teachers and administration who have been very supportive of her and cheering her onward.

“My teachers were so great when I talked to them about switching to the Five Day Team,” Sophia recalls. “They tailored to my experience, they were really supportive. They emailed me asking how I did [in the competitions], and they gave me extra time on certain things. They really respected what I was doing. I would not have been able to go as far as I had this season without them.”

Most competitive skiers live in the mountains where their schools are geared to the sport of skiing. Sophia attends RVMS in Highlands Ranch and has had to make many adjustments. When asked if there were specific teachers who helped her the most this school year, Sophia didn’t hesitate to acknowledge math teacher Jeff Entner, science teacher Lori Naughton, and social studies teacher Ann Rhinehart. She said they have all been very understanding and influential on her journey this eight-grade year.

Sophia’s father has been very pleased with how Ranch View’s administration team has encouraged his daughter this season.

“The principal, Mrs. Erin Kyllo, has been so supportive in terms of her bigger competitions that are two-to-three day events,” said Bill, “even now in terms of helping us rebalance some of the CMAS testing has been very helpful. She and her administrative staff and teachers were always very responsive by providing Sophia with the links and the information for school work, pointing her in the right direction, and letting her go.”
Sophia Gardner
The straight-A honor roll student is not only a force to be reckoned with on the slopes, but also in her academic life. While COVID-19 was a challenge for many, remote learning has allowed Sophia to take her athletics and academics to the next level by spending more time in the mountains.

“She’s been able to thrive through all of this. As awful as COVID-19 is, [the pandemic] has been great for us,” Bill said. “In a sea of negativity, we’re the little bottle of happiness. Sophia was able to enjoy a flexible schedule to allow her to take a full courseload and still train.”

RVMS is a pillar of educational excellence and recognizes the importance of a well-rounded student. They have allowed Sophia the flexibility with her school schedule to succeed in competitive ski racing and have cheered her successes alongside her journey. Sophia and her father acknowledge that they could not have done this without the support of the school.

"Sophia is an amazing eighth-grader at Ranch View Middle School and it has been our honor watching her navigate and persevere through this pandemic," said RVMS Principal Erin Kyllo. "During this school year we have been remote, hybrid, and full in-person. We worked with her family to allow flexibility with her school work so she was able to attend her skiing competitions. Oftentimes, families with competitive skiers feel they need to move their child to an online school. Ranch View wants students to pursue their outside passions; we work with families to make our brick and mortar school happen. Sophia is a very diligent, hard working student who often goes above and beyond. Sophia embodies our IB (International Baccalaureate) learner profile of ‘balanced.’ As an eighth-grader, she exhibits the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional stability that our most successful student athletes have in common. It will be exciting to follow her through high school!"

Sophia has had some challenges trying to juggle all of her plates in the air. On days when she was really tired after training on the slopes all day, her school work would still need to be done. Sophia's biggest challenge through this season was the balance of it all: training, school work, competitions, and focusing on the task at hand.

“It’s been a lot to manage, but she’s done a very good job at managing it all,” said her father.

When Sophia is not hitting the slopes or catching up on schoolwork, she enjoys playing the violin and running cross-country with friends. She appreciates her two circles of friends: her ski friends and her Ranch View Middle School friends, to balance her out.

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