Race Toward Scholarships for Winter Sports Lovers

Winter sports scholarships exist for everyone from professional hockey hopefuls to Nordic skiers.

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Both skiers and snowboarders can turn a passion for winter sports into college scholarship money.

Many students are breathing a collective sigh of relief as the new year approaches and they begin a well-deserved winter break following a busy semester. Most students can't wait to spend copious amounts of time on the nearest sofa, but we know there are several readers who can't wait to hit the slopes or the local ice rink.

Those who take winter sports seriously can use their talents to apply for one of the scholarships available for those who don't mind the cold and snow. To make it easy, we've put together a number of winter sports scholarships.

[Find out ways to make and save money over winter break.]

 • Skiers: Ski bunnies, listen up! You can use your skills as an alpine skier to earn money for college, especially if you belong to the United States Ski Association. Ski Racing Development and World Cup Supply are offering a $1,000 scholarship to one male and one female USSA junior alpine ski racer in the under-16 age bracket.

In addition to the scholarship, each winner will also receive special ski gear. This year's application is slated to open soon.

If you love to ski but find careening down a mountain isn't really your thing, don't fret. There are scholarships out there for Nordic skiers, too. Residents of Alaska should check out the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage.

This excellent organization awards scholarships to Anchorage-area students who participate in Nordic skiing and are members of the NSSA. The application for this scholarship opens Jan. 1.

For those of you who prefer one board to two skis, you may want to check out Sierra Nevada College, located on Lake Tahoe in Nevada. It's also one of the few colleges that also offers snowboarding scholarships. Competitive snowboarders shouldn't miss looking into this college and its scholarship program.

[Read these tips for students pursuing athletic scholarships.]

• Competitive skaters: Scholarships abound for skaters, too. Figure skaters should jump at the opportunity to apply for scholarships through U.S. Figure Skating, which offers a variety of scholarships, grants and awards to help the sport grow.

Some of the scholarships are intended to subsidize costs that go along with figure skating, like the Competitive Skaters Assistance Program awards. Others, like the Memorial Academic Scholarship, are more traditional scholarships.

Deadlines for the scholarships vary, so make sure to check out the website to learn about all of the opportunities.

Hockey players are also in luck, as colleges and universities with hockey programs typically offer scholarships. If you plan on playing hockey in college, you should first read up on the process of hockey recruitment and financial aid. Then, check out the school you're interested in for more information.

For those of you who happen to live in Pennsylvania, there's a great scholarship available through the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, which awards a number of scholarships every year to local students who play hockey.

[Improve your scholarship search with these websites.]

• Recreational skaters: You don't have to skate competitively to earn a scholarship. The Facility Management Corp. Skaters Scholarship program awards scholarships to ice hockey players, figure skaters and recreational skaters in June of each year in order to provide financial assistance to ice sports participants and recreational ice skaters who demonstrate excellence both on and off the ice.

The 2014 scholarship application isn't due until May 15, so you still have plenty of time to apply.

After several months of homework and tests, it's easy to forget about all things academic. But while you're taking a break in the chalet, make it a goal to apply for at least one winter sports scholarship. It will be one less thing you'll have to do next semester.

Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.