Get an adrenaline rush

As the spring semester begins, cold nights descend over campus and warmth becomes a commodity that most cannot afford to pass up, sending students rushing from building to building as quickly as possible, but not the members of the Carnegie Mellon alpine ski team.

They thrive in the cold, pray for snow, and drive hours every weekend looking for a small drop in temperature. For them, the first five weekends of spring semester — Friday through Sunday — were spent out in the cold, trying to create a place for Carnegie Mellon in competitive skiing.

Formed this winter by senior co-captains Hugh Dunn and Alex Sussman, the ski team is currently an extension of the Carnegie Mellon ski and snowboard club. It is run by students, coached by the captains, and funded mostly through member fundraising.

Carnegie Mellon’s division in ski racing is extremely competitive, and many of the member schools take alpine racing very seriously. Schools such as West Virginia University, Davis & Elkins College, and Pennsylvania State University all have skiers who come from ski academies — schools built with the explicit purpose of training students to ski. In addition, many of these teams have ski camps where they practice with a coach hired to train each student on the technical aspects of alpine racing. While the Carnegie Mellon ski team does not have some of these perks, they did better in their inaugural year than anyone could have ever asked.

When the final results came in, Carnegie Mellon placed sixth out of the 10 schools in their division. But according to members of the team, this was not the biggest victory of the season.

Successful skiing can be measured by the fastest time down the slope, but there are other measures of success that are much more complicated. What makes this conference so successful is the interaction between teams. Daniel Chen, a senior electrical and computer engineering major, said, “It’s provided us a competitive atmosphere, but where everyone can relax and have a good time while improving their skiing ability.” Although the name of the game is competition, it is extremely common to see team members giving tips and advice to individuals from other teams. The advice and pointers from other schools’ coaches are so common that maybe Carnegie Mellon’s team does not even need a coach.

Because of the nature of skiing, team members spend a good amount of time contributing not only to their own team’s success, but to the success of the conference as a whole. Running a skiing event costs a lot of money, in addition to requiring a significant amount of staff. Due to monetary constraints, each team contributes as much as possible. This strengthens the bond between teams and among skiers.
In light of the team’s success, next year’s captain first-year Anthony Cartolano hopes to start a women’s team to complement the men’s team. “I just want people to realize how awesome this is,” he said, coming off the slopes after a race. “I’m so excited for next year already.”

With the ski season ending, one can only hope to see even greater success on the slopes next year.