World traveler and Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA) junior Ariana Woods’ travel opportunities have inspired her to be unique and try new things in her life. Back in March, she earned a gold medal at the U.S. Biathlon National Championships!
Ariana’s father put her on skis a few days after she learned how to walk, and it has been her favorite form of travel ever since.
The 17-year-old called it the “most amazing and exhilarating feeling” to be able to participate in the Championships and finish in first. She currently is a member of the U.S. Junior Biathlon Team.
Ariana also recently qualified for the Intermountain Division Junior National Sky Team that goes to Junior Nationals every March, and the Youth team that has competed at U.S. and Canadian Biathlon Nationals the past few years.
In the winter months, Ariana’s ski racing takes her family all over the world to compete in places like Europe and Canada.
“Being a cross country ski racer/biathlete requires me to miss a lot of normal school days, but that isn’t as big of a deal when you have the flexibility to catch up whenever you want,” Ariana said. “There is no way I could maintain the grades I currently have if I was enrolled in a standard school.”
Ariana’s family first enrolled her at IDVA in third grade because they needed an alternative that fit their busy lifestyle.
“Being confined to a brick-and-mortar school just wasn’t my style,” Ariana said. “IDVA is perfect because I still get to interact with amazing teachers but I can do it from anywhere with Wi-Fi! It perfectly suits my on-the-move style of learning.”
Her family owns a Sea Kayaking and Adventure Travel business in Mexico and a few other parts of the world which also requires them to travel.
“I have been a kayaking guide my whole life and I wanted my children to see the world and appreciate all that is out there,” said Ariana’s mother, Stefanie. “Being in a school that is virtual has been a key component.”
Every fall since Ariana and her siblings were toddlers, her parents have taken them to Baja, Mexico, to guide Sea Kayaking tours. They have also spent the past 10 years guiding trekking trips in places like Greece and Patagonia.
“We have never left them behind; they go on all the trips with us,” Stefanie said. “The other travel in the winter months has been because my kids both are competitive Nordic and biathlon ski racers.”
The online environment of IDVA has given Ariana flexibility outside of a brick-and-mortar classroom, making it possible for the family to live out their world traveler lifestyle and giving Ariana more time to focusing on ski training.
Ariana trains five days a week in seven different sessions for a total of 12 hours a day for 11 months out of the year. Two sessions are in their local high school gym for strength exercises which are an hour each and the other five are on skis, bikes, or roller skis.
“All of my IDVA teachers are extremely supportive,” Ariana said. “They allow me to catch up on assignments I have missed and even post my photos to the virtual newspaper! All my teachers have made it possible for me to succeed in each of my classes.”
Up next for Ariana is paddle board races this summer at Payette Lake and mountain bike races and ski race circuits this fall.