By David Gold

US_speedskating_menAugust 6 - US Speedskating has announced a new partnership with Ashworth College to provide free tuition to the federation's elite-level athletes from high school through to college degrees.

It means the athletes involved will be able to balance a busy training and international programme with their studies easier, with Ashworth College offering more than 115 degrees.

Its programme and curriculum is all online, meaning athletes have more flexibility with their study plans.

"The opportunity to access a distance learning program through Ashworth College, either as an inroad to a particular interest and subsequent transfer to a bricks and mortar institution, or to pursue a complete degree in a particular field is an amazing new addition to what we offer our high performance athletes," said US Speedskating executive director and two-time Olympian Mark Greenwald.

"Having spent many years in a variety of academic institutions across North America myself, I fully appreciate what a potential benefit this relationship will be for those who choose to take advantage of it."

Emily Scott, the 2011 Short Relay Track World Cup gold medallist added: "My skating career is extremely important to me and so is my education.

"The opportunity to pursue my degree through Ashworth means I don't have to choose between the two.

"With our rigorous practice and competition schedule, Ashworth gives me the flexibility to take classes and study at my own pace that would not be possible with a traditional university."

Ashworth College President Gary Keisling added: "We are proud to be affiliated with world class athletes that possess the desire to achieve their goals both on and off the ice.

"Through education, Ashworth College is excited to help these athletes and others around the world achieve their personal best every day.

"Ashworth has committed to providing students the world over an affordable, accredited online education with the flexibility to fit into a student's life and ability to help them reach their goals fast.

"We're equally dedicated to providing a fun and enjoyable education experience for each student who enrolls in an Ashworth program."

Ashworth College will also be offering discounts to US Speedskating members, who will be looking forward to the start of the 2011-12 season with confidence after picking up 68 World Cup medals, in addition to four World Championship titles, last year.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]