Ski & Snowboard Team in USCSA national competition

The team painted the Fence ahead of their trip to nationals. (credit: Sloane Macklin) The team painted the Fence ahead of their trip to nationals. (credit: Sloane Macklin) The ski and snowboard team poses together after a competition. (credit: Sloane Macklin) The ski and snowboard team poses together after a competition. (credit: Sloane Macklin)

Skiing and snowboarding may not be strongly associated with Carnegie Mellon, but the ski and snowboard team has developed into a force to be reckoned with. The team has persevered over regional and conference rivals and recently qualified for national competition.

The team first started in 2005 when it was founded by current coach Hugh Dunn and competes in freestyle, slalom, and giant slalom in the Allegheny conference of the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA). “We compete against Penn State, Pitt, Villanova, West Virginia, Navy, and a few others,” team captain and senior material science and engineering major Sloane Macklin said. “What’s really important is that we always beat Pitt.”

This year has been one of the most successful for the team. In conference competition, the women’s skiing team took third place while the men’s earned fifth. “We had three people medal in freestyle this year,” Sloane said, referring to her first place in freestyle skiing, first-year civil and biomedical engineering major Tessa Weeden’s second place in freestyle snowboarding, and junior biological sciences major Carolyn Vanek’s second place in freestyle skiing.

Regionally, the women’s skiing team placed sixth, earning a spot in the national championships. All the team’s snowboarders qualified for nationals. The team members were all looking forward to the national championships, though front-loading the week’s assignments certainly weighed on their minds. “We’re going to be out all week, so we’re trying to get a lot of homework done in advance,” Weeden said. Still, the team members seemed more excited about the experience than drained by coursework.

More important than the team’s success is the atmosphere and camaraderie the members have with each other. When they started, skiing varied from person to person. “Both my parents were ski instructors, and I lived in Colorado,” sophomore physics major Sara Graves said. “It was sort of a requirement to ski, so I started at about two and a half.”

“I started snowboarding in high school,” Weeden said. “I fell in love with it because it’s so much fun.” The team even takes in people who have no prior experience with the sport. “Just be a great person and open to trying new things. You don’t even have to know how to ski.”

On the team atmosphere, the members all had similar thoughts. “Ski team is a super tight-knit group of people,” Weeden said. “We hang out all the time even outside of the team. It’s super chill and fun, and everyone supports each other all the time.”

Macklin agreed. “It can be really tough to organize, but that makes things really worthwhile when we do.”

She also added her experiences with other college students outside of Carnegie Mellon.

“We had a meet up with Pitt, and it’s really cool to meet up with so many people from other schools.”

Graves described what the team is to her more succinctly: “It’s very much like my oasis on campus.”

The ski and snowboard team will compete at the USCSA 2017 National Championships from Monday, March 6 to Saturday, March 11.