The Burke Mountain Academy was America’s first ski academy. What is unique about it is not how progressive it was, but how that progressive mindset has stood the test of time. After nearly 50 years it continues to refine its ability to develop Olympic skiers an world-class individuals. On this week’s GAINcast co-founder Finn Gundersen joins us to discussion the beginnings and growth of the academy, as well as his current work in coaches education in soccer and other sports.
Notes and quotes
Gundersen was a co-founder of the Burke Mountain Academy, where he worked as a teacher, head coach and Headmaster for a total of 25 years. Over that time the Academy produced over 50 Olympians and 150 U.S. Ski Team members. Since 2000 he has worked in a variety of roles for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, the 2002 Olympics, and most recently as Director of Sport Education for HP Sports, where he works with coaches from the grassroots to professional level to improve development programs.
The Burke Mountain Academy
- 0:30 – About Finn Gundersen.
- 5:00 – The formation of Burke Mountain Academy. Our students have succeeded in college because they are used to having relationships with adults.
- 11:30 – Maintaining culture in times of growth and change. “We could hire someone to clean our bathrooms, but that isn’t what community is about. It is about shared responsibilities. “
- 15:30 – Creating a multi-sport environment in a specialized sport academy. “There were athletic benefits from playing other sports, but we did it to line up against bigger schools, test their courage, suffer, and learn about themselves. “
- 20:00 – The role of facilities in high performance.
- 21:30 – The eastern vs. western US culture of skiing.
Making better coaches
- 23:00 – Getting involved in soccer and Finn’s current role at HP Sports.
- 26:30 – An example of his current work: problem solving and culture. “Normally the mind jumps to an answer or focuses on the negatives and the conversation ends. That doesn’t solve problems. “
- 30:00 – The role of leadership in academies and teaching athletes to be better decision makers. “You learn about methods and philosophies in visiting the best academies, but what you really learn is that it comes down to leadership. ” “We are so coach centric in America, but in soccer once the game starts it is up to the players. “
- 35:15 – Mindset, sports psychology and training the brain: “Sports psychology is not a mystery. If you can train your feet you can train your brain. “
- 39:30 – Advice for young coaches. “What makes the difference between the good coaches and the great coaches? It comes down to leadership. We are in the people business. How do you learn that? Be widely read beyond your sport. “
- 44:00 – Book recommendations.
To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- The site theme in April is “beyond the barbell.” So far this month we have a GAINcast on the topic, an interview with Steve Myrland, Myrland’s demonstration of top mini band exercises, leg circuits, and tips on how to get the most out of medicine balls and integrate them into training. Stay tuned for more on the topic in the coming weeks and don’t forget to join HMMR Plus so you don’t miss more on this topic. Sign up and get access to numerous webinars, online meetups, articles, our sports science newsletter, and more.
- You can learn more about Gundersen’s background on the HP Sports homepage.
- Bill Knowles, who spent a decade coaching at the Burke Mountain Academy and now works at HP Sports alongside Gundersen, has been a guest on GAINcast 49 and HMMR Podcast Episode 124.
- Some books recommended on this episode: The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership by Sam Walker, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Dan Coyle, The Talent Lab: The secret to finding, creating and sustaining success by Owen Slot, and Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein.