Becoming a world-class athlete requires dedication, sacrifice, determination, and a lot of hard work. Olympic athletes often begin training at a very young age, sometimes before they’ve even started school. Between intense training regimens, early morning workouts, and travel for competitions, it can be tough for a future Olympian to be in a classroom all day, every day. It’s particularly difficult for winter sport competitors whose training is dependent on snow conditions. For these athletes, the flexibility to hit the slopes when conditions are right—even on a school day—is a must.

So it’s not surprising that a number of Olympians have sought out alternatives to a traditional brick-and-mortar education. While some of these athletes were more traditional homeschoolers, others chose online options, or independent study programs.

Like competitive swimmers and figure skaters who have opted for online education with K12, these Olympians found that a more flexible option could help them reach their athletic goals, while still pursuing their education.

We can’t wait to watch and root for these homeschooled Olympians!

Arielle Gold

Snowboarder Arielle Gold will be competing in her first Winter Olympics in Sochi. The 17-year old Colorado native attends Insight School of Colorado, a K12 online school, in order to spend more time on the slopes. In an interview with NBC, she said: “Doing online school allows me to spend more time on the mountain in the early morning, when the conditions are better, and do school at night time or on weather days. It also helps a lot for traveling because I can easily take my school with me, and all I need to bring is my computer.”

Nick Goepper

Competing in his first Olympics at Sochi, 19-year-old Nick Goepper is currently ranked No. 1 in the world in slopestyle skiing, a sport newly added to the Winter Olympics, and is thought to have a good shot at a medal. In order to advance in his sport and his education, Goepper attended Windell’s Academy, an action sports school in Mt. Hood, OR that offers online courses through a partnership with Keystone National High School.

Shaun White

At 6 years old, Shaun White started snowboarding. By 7, he had his first sponsorship. From an early age, White needed flexibility to pursue his athletic dreams, so he chose to use an independent study program through a public high school in Southern California.  He said this let him focus on snowboarding in the winters, and catch up on schoolwork during the off-season. Now 27, the gold medal-winning snowboarder is preparing to compete in his third Olympics at Sochi in the men’s halfpipe event.

Evan Strong

When snowboarder Evan Strong was 17, he was struck in a head-on collision by a speeding drunk driver while riding a motorcycle. The injuries he sustained resulted in his left leg being amputated. Already an accomplished skateboarder, Strong was determined to recover and continue to do what he loved despite his injuries. He began snowboarding and quickly rose through the ranks, winning a gold medal at the X Games and several world championship titles in his sport of Adaptive Snowboard Cross. Now he’s competing in his first Olympics at Sochi with the U.S. Paralympics team. Strong was homeschooled in his home state of Hawaii and graduated in 2004.

Jamie Anderson

Snowboarder Jamie Anderson is competing in her first Winter Olympics at Sochi in the new slopestyle event. She has won national and international events, and became the youngest athlete to win an X Games medal in 2006 at just 15. The 23-year-old is from Lake Tahoe, CA and is one of eight homeschooled siblings.

Cathy and Chris Reed

Sibling ice dancers Cathy and Chris Reed are American-born, but are representing their mother’s home country, Japan, in their second Olympic Games. Four years ago, at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, younger sister Allison also competed for Georgia, her partner’s native country. All three Reed siblings were homeschooled to allow them to work with top coaches and progress in their sport.

Michelle Kwan

Former figure skater Michelle Kwan brought home two Olympic medals for Team USA before retiring in 2005. The champion ice skater got her start at just 5 years old and by age 8, she was training seriously. According to ESPN, Kwan left public school and began her homeschool education in 8th grade. Though she is retired from competition, Kwan is still active in the sport of figure skating as an analyst at Sochi.

Check out the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics schedule to find out when to watch and view event results.

Which events or athletes are you most looking forward to watching?

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