Ski & Snowboard Club: C’mon out and join us this winter

 A skier hits The Church, a popular trail at Sugarbush ski resort. Sugarbush resort photo by John Atkinson

A skier hits The Church, a popular trail at Sugarbush ski resort.
Sugarbush resort photo by John Atkinson

Waxed skis cut through the fresh snow and come to rest at the edge of a 15 foot cliff. A member of the Norwich Ski and Snowboard Club looks over his ski tips, examining his landing spot.
Power Donnelly, a 21-year-old junior construction management major from Katy, Texas, launches himself off the edge of the cliff on The Church, one of Sugarbush Ski Resort’s steep mountain trails.
Donnelly is an avid skier at Sugarbush, located just over the mountain range in nearby Warren, and an active member of Norwich University’s ski and snowboard club. Along with fellow club members, Donnelly was happy to give an inside look at the club’s plans for the upcoming months.
One of the club’s new winter plans is to start holding ski and snowboard lessons on Paine Mountain for a minimal fee, said Michael Tewksbury.
Tewksbury, 19, a junior computer science major from Middletown, Conn., said that the lessons would be for “students and club members that are new and have never skied or snowboarded before and are interested in learning.”
The program is young, so attendees will need their own equipment. The lessons will be conducted by club members who “have really good background knowledge on skiing and snowboarding,” said Tewksbury.
For students who would like to learn at a larger mountain, club members would be “more than happy to meet them at Sugarbush to give lessons,” Donnelly said.
This would allow skiers to use the lifts and practice on more varied and groomed terrain.
Whether it is down the Red trail on Paine Mountain or making the half-hour drive to Sugarbush, the club has the personnel and the time. All they need now are the students.
“We need interest,” said Katie Makara, 19, a sophomore chemistry major from Springfield, Mass. “We can’t do it without people who want to learn.”
If any student is interested in learning, Makara said that club members are happy to hear from interested people via email. Dates, times, and questions can be answered and coordinated.
The most important thing in starting out is to just “do it,” said Makara. “It will only take a few times to really get into it.”
Her views were echoed by Tewksbury. “The biggest thing is getting back up,” said Tewksbury. “It’s going to be hard, you just have to put in the time and effort to get better.”
But for any who are past the learning phase and looking for a place to ski this winter, student skiers and riders were quick to sing the praises of Sugarbush, just a half hour west of campus.
With a vast network of 111 trails serviced by 21 lifts, skiers can cover over 578 acres of terrain and 21 different sections of tree skiing. Lincoln Mountain has 2400 feet vertical, and Mt. Ellen, which is over 4,000 feet, has a 2600-foot vertical drop. People of all abilities can find something of interest at Sugarbush.
For Makara, Mt. Ellen is “a hidden gem.” “Mt. Ellen was the best place for me to learn,” said student Renee Layton, 22, a junior civil engineering major from Deerfield, N.H., She said that the narrow trails and sharp turns of Mt. Ellen forced her to learn how to turn well.
Lincoln Peak is generally considered to have the most challenging runs for good skiers. . “My favorite trail at Sugarbush would be Jester,” said Tewksbury. “That goes all the way to the top of Lincoln Peak and zig-zags down the mountain with some pretty sharp turns.”
Ski resorts are not the only place winter enthusiasts can get their adrenaline rush. Increasingly, skiers are going into back country glades by hiking up on snowshoes or skinning up by using fiber “skins” that provide traction on the bottom of their skis. Then they can pick their own line down a mountain, explained the new director of the Shaw Center, Collin O’Neil. “There are great slopes all around central Vermont for back-country skiing,” he said.
Students don’t even have to travel far to find a place to click into their bindings and bury themselves in deep powder. O’Neil explained, “There is a great amount of back-country, glade skiing here on the old ski slopes as well as off the east side of [Paine] Mountain.”
Once snow starts to fall, the NU club will be carving tracks on campus as well as on the mountain. “Sometimes you will see us around,” said Donnelly, referencing the number of unofficial events that student skiers and boarders like to hold.
NU’s naturally hilly campus is a skier or boarder’s dream come true that quickly gets turned into a home-made terrain park on nights of fresh snow and a little too much school work, Donnelly said.
“On a random weekday night when people are stressed, or don’t have anything else to do, you’ll see them building ramps behind Alumni [Hall] and down by the [Wise Campus Center],” said Donnelly.
The club hosts one official event every year, and that’s the winter rail jam, a competition of rail grinds and tricks, held during the week of winter carnival every February.
“We’re thinking about opening it up to other schools for more participation,” said Tewksbury.
As of now, the jam is open to all students after paying a $10 entry fee. In return, competitors compete for prizes from local businesses; free giveaways are available for spectators, and all students are treated to a warm bonfire and good music. “Anyone is welcome to just try it out for the first time,” said Tewksbury.
Tewksbury said that before and after the event students can try their hand without having to compete.
Great prizes are up for grabs Makara said, with a brand new pair of skis being given away last year to one of just two skiers who competed. “We have the best wipeout prize so even if you aren’t good, participate anyways.”

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