Master Class

You've learned the basics. Now take your game to the next level with these top schools.

Nantahala Outdoor Center
Nantahala was founded in 1972, the year of whitewater's Olympic debut, and has been using Olympians as instructors ever since. During the five-day Advanced Creek Week course with U.S. Freestyle Team paddler Andrew Holcombe ($1,099), you'll learn crisper eddy turns and combat rolls in Class III runs.

Boston Sailing Center
With I-93 now passing underground, Boston feels like a proper harbor again. At the Sailing Center, a 30-year New England stalwart, you can start with courses in electronic navigation ($350) and night sailing ($295). Advanced Sailing ($795) covers tuning, spinnaker handling, and navigation over five days. Then learn coastal passage-making on your way to Nantucket (five-day cruise, $1,290).

SurfCoach USA
Get ready to compete. With former pro Sean Mattison guiding you from the lineup during his weeklong Boot Camps ($375), you'll polish your backhand cutbacks all morning and run mock heats in workable breaks and hollows. You'll get a surf-specific workout plan, too: Mattison preaches physical training and stretching to keep you primed for your next session.

Saltwater Fly-Fishing
Florida Keys Fly Fishing School
You've waded western rivers and can drop a pale evening dun in front of an 18-inch rainbow. Now head to the Florida Keys, where eight-time Grand Champion angler Sandy Moret andfly-fishing icon Flip Pallot will prepare you to battle 150-pound tarpon. Small-group weekend lessons ($1,250) teach casting technique and strategy; actual fishing comes later ($585 per day).

Wilderness Survival
Boulder Outdoor Survival School
BOSS's Seven-Day Field Course ($1,350) covers friction fires, water purification, navigation, and thermodynamics—all with only basic equipment. Think you could be the next Les Stroud? See how you fare on BOSS's more strenuous (and minimalist) 28-Day Standard Field Course ($3,875), which they've been teaching in southern Utah for 40 years.

National Alpine Ski Camp
"We get the fanatics," says NASC director Brad Alire. Well, who else would go to a ski school that runs from June to August, on the glacial ice of Mount Hood, a training site for USSA team racers? At the ten-day Ski Training Master's Program ($1,995), you'll fine-tune steering, edging, and pressure control, hitting nearly 500 gates a day.

Carmichael Training Systems
This is what it's like to be a pro. A veteran wrench has your rig humming, and Chris Carmichael has just personally set your target= watt range. If you flat, the SRAM support vehicle is there. Meanwhile, a fleet of coaches helps you improve pacing and dishes tips on group-ride dynamics. Weeklong spring training camps ($4,000) load up on miles; two-day performance testing ($1,000) hones technique.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski & Snowboard School
The same folks who developed Whistler's legendary Dave Murray Ski Camps have turned their attention to boarding. The two-day Quiksilver FreestyleFreeride camps ($229) work slope and park technique on terrain that ranges from GS lanes to superpipes.

Alaska Mountaineering School
AMS's 12-day advanced mountaineering course ($2,850) is run like an expedition. On day one, a ski-equipped, fixed-wing aircraft drops you deep in Denali National Park, and the coursework is full-time from then on, from glacier travel and crevasse rescue to route finding and rock, ice, and aid climbing. They also teach guide courses (12 days, $2,850).

Rock Climbing
Colorado Mountain School
From Eldorado Canyon to the Flatiron Range and Rocky Mountain National Park's Lumpy Ridge, Boulder's perfect granite and sandstone is a great place to step up your climbing. And CMS, which traces its guiding lineage to 1877, is the best place to start. Its one-day Big Wall Clinic ($170) teaches hauling, hygiene, and hanging camp, while the Crack Clinic ($170) gets you hand-jamming without pain.

Eight-time Ironman world champion Paula Newby-Fraser is among the stars who teach three-day camps ($795) at the sites of Ironman events, seven to nine weeks before race day, to get you fit and familiar with the course. Five-day winter training camps ($1,145) include video analysis, an anaerobic-threshold test, and lots of miles. Newby-Fraser and coaches like '97 world champ Heather Fuhr and former pro Roch Frey can also be hired for a weekend of one-on-one ($3,500).

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