Details Announced for New Travelling Mountain Biking High School

Mar 17, 2020
by riley gardner  

Yup, it really does exist.

PRESS RELEASE: World Class Academy

While sport-specific schools have existed in skiing, snowboarding, kayaking and a multitude of other sports for decades, a mountain bike specific high school has not existed... until now. World Class Academy is changing that in 2020 with the creation of The MTB Academy; a traveling, mountain biking, high school.

Current student Mateo Negri blasting down a Peruvian trail after a day of school

What World Class Academy is:
World Class Academy is an accredited private high school that combines academics, athletics, travel, and cultural immersion. It is a school that pushes alternative education to new heights with a firm belief that quality education comes from interacting with the world around us.

World Class Academy is a fully accredited private high school. It is based out of White Salmon, Washington, but the students are rarely there. The school has four different programs for four different adventure sports- climbing, kayaking, kiteboarding, and now mountain biking. The original program, World Class Kayak Academy was founded in 2001. Since then the school has traveled to six continents, dozens of countries and graduated hundreds of students.

MTB Academy students Mateo Negri and Joaquin Lopez working through some mathmatics

The WCA Education Model:

At World Class Academy, education always comes first. This is what separates the school from many other “sports” academies - the goal is not to churn out professional athletes. The goal is to take advantage of a student’s passion for their sport and utilize that as a vehicle to enhance their education, travel, experience new cultures and participate in their sport at the best locations in the world. Has the school produced some professional athletes? Most definitely. But athletic prowess always comes after a student's education and character development at WCA.

At all four schools of World Class Academy, each quarter of school takes place in a different country. Within those quarters, the school travels to different areas to explore new terrain and cultures.

At the MTB Academy, the students have the opportunity to mountain bike every day in some of the world’s best places to ride a mountain bike. However, Academics always come before riding. If a student does not complete their homework - they are not allowed to go mountain biking that day. If their overall grade in a course falls below 70% - they are not allowed to go biking until they raise their grades. This is the World Class “secret sauce.” This model has caused dozens of students who were previously apathetic about academics to invest themselves in their education. Our class sizes are very small, and students go mountain biking with their teachers every day - which builds a solid connection between the students and their teachers. Our teachers/coaches not only support our students but share in the journey and experience as well.

"Do you want to ride the Whistler Mountain Bike Park today? Then you need to do your homework." It is that simple. This is why the school has experienced so much success, and why the parents love it.

Program Director Riley Gardner at the Whistler Bike Park

The kind of riding that happens at The MTB Academy:

The goal at the MTB Academy is to produce well-rounded mountain bikers. Depending on where the school is at a given time, student-athletes will ride shuttle-assisted enduro trails, long cross-country routes, make laps in bike parks, and more. Our goal is to create riders who are skilled at all types of riding, not just a single discipline. While riding, the team will often divide into smaller groups and venture to different trails in order for individuals to develop their skills in smaller groups and on varied terrain.

While MTBA is not a “race school” the school will give students the ability to participate in races when the school is near them. While competition-based success is not the sole purpose of the school’s athletic model, most students will be ready to excel competitively after spending an entire academic year riding all over the world with high-quality coaching.

Mateo Negri racing his way to a win in the first race of the Peruvian National Series

The Spring 2020 Pilot Program:

The MTB Academy is already taking place, right now, in Cusco Peru. It is lead by veteran World Class Academy teacher Riley Gardner and has 3 students. They are having classes five days a week and riding bikes every day. The pilot program is allowing the school to develop its tried-and-true methods with a new sport, essentially allowing the school to develop new systems and work out the kinks before having a larger group of students and staff for a full academic year.

Mateo Negri working on some technique after school
Pilot Program Student Joaquin Lopez rallying through a turn

2020-2021 School Year Destinations:

For the 2020-2021 school year, The MTB Academy will be traveling to some of the best mountain biking destinations. Each quarter is either 6 or 7 weeks long and is operated with a break where students go home.

Starting in late August, the first quarter will be held in British Columbia, Canada. The school will be exploring and riding Whistler, Squamish, the Sunshine Coast, and North Vancouver. The school will travel to Utah for the second quarter. The school will start the quarter riding the classics of Moab before moving to other locations like Hurricane and then ending in Sedona, Arizona. After winter break, the third quarter will be held in New Zealand where the school will spend 7 weeks exploring the Southern Hemisphere’s best riding destination. The fourth quarter will be held in Portugal where the school will spend 6 weeks exploring Portugal's trails in areas like Sintra and Lousã.

The 2019 graduating class at World Class Kayak Academy and Program Director Riley Gardner with a diploma holding graduate. Almost all of the graduates in these photos thought would not be able to afford World Class Academy... until they applied

Where can I find out more?
Check out our website - - to learn more about the school.

There you can learn more about our academic model, our plan for next year, and how to apply!

Or email

Are you interested in working for The MTB Academy? Go to our website to find out more.

- by Riley Gardner


  • 43 1
 Anybody else thinking of trying to pull a Billy Madison?
  • 1 0
 Plenty of adult learners going back for college classes. Just a thought.
  • 12 0
 Does the picture in Whistler zoom in and out as you scroll past it or is that an illusion? Or is something wrong with my brain?
  • 2 0
 One of my mates was an instructor for World Class Kayaking Academy for a couple of years. Pretty awesome life for a dirtbag. Travel around, paddling everywhere from North America to South America to New Zealand while teaching literature and writing to kids who love the same sport you do.

Another friend was director of a school called the Academy for Global Exploration (he'd worked at World Class prior). He loved it.. until post-911 happened and having a bunch of American kids abroad started to seem like a bit of a risk and rich parent appetite for the experience declined.

Interesting time for them to feature this as well, when we're in the midst of a pandemic that is sending many travels from abroad scurrying back to their home countries
  • 3 0
 That is awesome! Who was your friend who worked for WCA?

It is definitely an interesting time to be promoting our school indeed! But the only thing, we as a school can do is press forward, and plan for next year. This pandemic will eventually pass and we are trying to be ready for that day as best we can. Plus there is probably so many kids bored at home right now...
  • 2 0

They were way back in the day but it was Howell Cox and Ammen Jordan.
  • 1 0
 This without the coma or emphasis in the right spot can go so wrong;

while teaching literature(,) and writing to kids who love the same sport you do.

while teaching literature and writing(,) to kids who love the same sport you do.

ha ha
  • 6 1
 Only $37,500 per year. Hard pass.
  • 2 1
 *Single Semester Tuition: $19,900.00

Full-Year Tuition: $39,800.00

Tuition excludes airfare, gear shipment, personal equipment, and medical insurance.*

It's a cool opportunity regardless.
  • 1 0
 @Karpiel073: It is definitely an amazing opportunity regardless! Also, in the three years I have worked for WCA, I have been astounded by the hard work students put in to attend the school. Most of our students work a ton and save money to make it happen. In my experience, very few qualify as spoiled rich kids.

Also, we offer a ton of scholarships and financial aid for families that we think are a good fit. Most students that have ever attended any of the 4 programs, did not think they could afford it until they applied.
  • 4 1
 That’s less than many private schools
  • 2 0
 I love how there are clearly two copies of "The Alchemist" in the picture with the guys doing math. Sign me up for any school that promotes mountain biking and has that book as required reading.
  • 1 0
 Good eye! Yea, we went right from English class to Math, so the book stayed on the table. Such a good read for adolescents... or anyone!
  • 1 0
 @rileygardner congratulations on the school! I don't believe we've ever met but your dad, uncles and aunt are my cousins originally from Indiana. If your school or you are ever in Indiana to ride Brown County or anywhere in Indiana, it would be a hoot to hook up and ride. Our trail system has been in development for the last 15 years and is getting to be a deatination. Good luck to you and the school! Dave
  • 2 0
 NO WAY! Awesome!
  • 5 1
 THIS would have made me go to school.
  • 2 0
 Hell yeah! No doubt that kids who get that level of travel and cultural exposure are going to set up for success down the road
  • 2 1
 Looks sweet but good luck convincing these kids they need to get jobs and go to work after. The real world is going to hit hard when it hits. Sorry kids it's truly all downhill from here. (No pun intended).
  • 1 0
 Actually, in my experience working at the school, graduates are even more motivated to work and get jobs because they are more motivated to travel and experience more. Many find what it is they want to do with their lives career-wise. I have never seen a WCA graduate content to go back home and just do nothing.
  • 2 0
 @rileygardner: That's good to hear coming from someone on the ground working with these kids. I'm probably just jealous and projecting. LoL.
  • 3 0
 This is awesome. Sign me up for another round of high school.
  • 2 0
 It's sad this is such a surprise in our society. Learning should be fun and through unique experience as is real life
  • 3 1
 Amazing! wish I could had the opportunity be in this school !
  • 1 0
 I’m a pretty good chemistry teacher and a very mediocre mountain biker.... could I get a job here?
  • 1 0
 I don’t need no fancy book learning.
  • 1 0
 Please think twice before using that font again
  • 1 0
 Noted! Thanks for the feedback. Honestly, we do not really have the funds for paying for a graphic designer on something like this. All of our tuition money goes right back into the program - in other words, there are way better things we could do with the money. It was just me learning as I went along... but again, I appreciate the feedback!
  • 1 0
 Those private school fees should be paying for better graphic designers
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