About the Founder
Billy O'Donnell, Founder and Executive Director
A professional athlete, coach, guide, and entrepreneur, Billy O’Donnell founded RIDGE Mountain Academy based on his desire to share knowledge, experience, focus and passion for mountain sports with a new generation of student athletes.
He grew up competing in traditional sports including hockey, football, golf, baseball, basketball, and skiing. After discovering adventure sports at a summer camp in northern Wisconsin, his passion grew for backpacking, camping, canoeing, sailing, and water skiing. Upon completing high school, Billy attended Colorado State University where he studied anthropology as a major and immersed himself into alpine, rock and ice climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, and skiing as full time endeavors.
During his early twenties, Billy worked as a ski coach, raft guide, and alpine climbing guide in Colorado, where he transitioned to skiing professionally full time. He competed nationally and internationally in Big Mountain Freeskiing and Ski Cross. Billy has appeared in all of the major ski magazines, has skied in movies, tests skis for magazine ski tests, and consults on product for manufacturers in the ski industry.
Toward the end of his competitive career he assumed the role of Team Manager for Obermeyer, in charge of marketing and events and managing over 30 athletes from 14 to 40 years old. He found working with young adults invigorating and soon took a position as the Director of Admissions at AIM House in Boulder, CO, a transitional living program for young adults. He helped grow the student population and assisted in launching the women’s program. It was there he saw the process by which families and students examine the choices in front of them to create their future path.
In 2007 Billy received a double Masters in Business Administration and a Masters of Global Studies from the University of Denver. He spent five years developing renewable energy wind and solar projects across North America as a Director and Vice President for a manufacturer and a developer, while maintaining a pro skier status with partners and sponsors. He has run a private water ski school in Northern Wisconsin, has consulted as an athlete and coach, and volunteers guiding wounded warriors and flying Young Eagles. He enjoys coaching mountain sports, playing golf, hockey, aviation, and spending time with family.