Olympian goes for gold and inspires Vt. classmates - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Olympian goes for gold and inspires Vt. classmates

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EAST BURKE, Vt. -

Reporter Julie Kelley: Have you seen the Sports Illustrated cover?

Jordan Watts: Yes, I have. It's really cool!

Jordan Watts starts her day at Burke Mountain Academy just like Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin did when she was here.

Most kids take the bus, but the T-bar is her ride each morning. Students at Burke Mountain Academy spend half the day on the slopes, the other half in class. They come from all over the world. Jordan lived in the same dorm with Mikaela.

"I just remember she was always fun to be around and she was like any other person at this school. That's how she acted and she never acted like she was any better than anyone else," Jordan said.

"It's inspiring because she's like any Burkie just there working hard and having fun," said Madison Lord, a student at Burke Mountain Academy. "So, it's cool to see that she's on top now!"

"I'm going through the same things she did," said Dannica Ashnault, a student a Burke Mountain Academy. "There's a chance that I could be there one day and it just makes you hope that you can ski the same as her."

Dannica Ashnault has been skiing since she was 1 1/2 and racing since she was 10. She shared a photo of herself with Mikaela during last year's graduation. She says that visit is when she realized what it has taken for Mikaela to get to the top of her sport.

"You don't see your family as much, you don't see your friends from home as much, other sports you have to quit those and I thought that was a big deal," Dannica said. "But then when I saw her giving up things like hanging out with your friends to do a workout by yourself or not hanging with us ski team because you have to do your homework. It changes your mindset."

That's a lesson that Mikaela's coach and headmaster at Burke Mountain Academy, Kirk Dwyer, thinks is important.

"The kids here have seen how Mikaela goes about doing her work and they can do the same. And ultimately whether they have the same success or not, they can be the best they can be and that's really what their dreams revolve around, being the best ski racers they can be," Dwyer said.

Julie Kelley: Do you dream of someday this happening to you?

Jordan Watts: Yes that is my dream. I think that's everyone's dream here; they want to be the best in the world.

Dreams that start on a mountain in Vermont and can lead to the Olympics.

Jordan was the youngest when Mikaela was the oldest student at Burke. She remembers that she was always willing to help the younger kids.

The headmaster says Mikaela really is a hero to them and that she's a great role model for that.

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