The East Coast’s Finest at UVM

Ahhh, winter in Vermont. This season turns many away from this fine state, but it is also this season that draws many here. When it was time for me to choose a college, the idea that I could spend my winters at a place where I could get in 30-plus days a year in riding tipped the scales in favor of this university. I know that I am not the only one who has felt this.

UVM is home to many talented skiers and riders, many amateurs and some professional. Many excel in the classroom as well as on the mountain, but it is probably the case that more would excel in the classroom if the spent more time off the mountain. This is not to say that all UVM students rock the slopes, because many suck. Some may even put me in that category, but its cool because its all about having fun in the outdoors and getting stoked about pushing your limits on the mountain whether it be a cab 900 in the pipe or a three-foot air off a kiddy jump.

The way the class schedule works at UVM allows student to punish themselves with obscene amounts of class on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to free up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a five-day weekend of cold-weather fun. This was the case for me my first two winters at UVM, nearly 12 hours of class on Tuesday allowed four day weekends where I quickly discovered that the best cure for a hangover is a face full of snow. Sleepless nights of cramming, a few broken bones and a few more bad grades were taken in stride, knowing that I can always find some untracked powder deep in the woods at Stowe.

Stowe seems to be the mountain that most UVM student frequent, though it is not necessarily the closest, nor is it the cheapest. It does, however, have some of the most accessible backcountry around. Those who hike from the gondola to the top of Mansfield find some of the best ridable steep faces in the East. Just be mindful of the last snowfall, there has been a few times where I have had to navigate the steep sections of the Chin when powder was nonexistent leaving only ice. Stowe does not put as much time and money into their park and pipe as do other mountains. This, in turn, causes them to lack the quality many would expect from a mountain like Stowe. Nevertheless, they still can be a lot of fun- I have spent many days having a great time only riding pipe there.

Sugarbush is another mountain that is heavily visited by UVM students. I myself haven’t been in five years so if you want to know more about read Andrew Cushing’s article below- but the word is that park and pipe there is much better than what you’ll find at Stowe.

Another mountain UVM students are often seen at is Jay Peak, known for powder, trees, and Canadians. It’s a place people should go to at least once a year, and it is cheap too- students can buy a weekend day pass for around $30. The ride to Jay Peak will also expose most to a part of Vermont that is far different than Chittenden county or the very touristy town of Stowe. One time, on my way to Jay Peak I actually saw a dead cow hanging by its back hoofs from the extended bucket of a tractor, which encouraged me to quickly put down the Rosie’s Maple Beef Jerky I was eating.

Bolton Valley is the closest mountain to UVM but is small and lacks the challenging natural terrain that has made Stowe and Jay Peak the icons that they are. The two things going for Bolton Valley the price- you can buy a night pass for under $30- that is if you even choose to buy one. A lot of times they do not check passes, just don’t look nervous in the lift line. You can also usually find a nice rail or kicker in the park that makes for a good session.

Then there is Smuggler’s Notch. Smuggs is a great place, there are plenty of woods to explore with powder being the reward for those who take the time to find it, the park is solid, and the pipe may be the best around.

The UVM Ski and Snowboard Club

Skiing and snowboarding seem to play a significant role in the weekly lives of many UVM students, as it does for many students at universities and colleges that have snow covered mountains close by. To complement the students’ lifestyle many universities around the country have very large ski and snowboard clubs, the ski and snowboard club at the University of Colorado, Boulder boasts over 2000 members. For a long time this was not the case at the University of Vermont.

In 2002 the UVM Ski Club and the UVM Snowboard Club were separately run, and both were very had only a few members and offered very little to students. In the fall of 2003 Chris Germain, Brett Schnider, Don Watkins, and Andrew Whiteford among others thought that this was something that needed to be changed so they united the two clubs, designed a eye catching logo, and brought energy to the club.

The UVM Ski and Snowboard Club currently has 244 members and are easily spotted on campus rocking the signature hoodies and t-shirts. The club organizes bus transportation every weekend from campus to Stowe and Sugarbush on alternating days. They have also planned many trips; most recently over this past Winter Break the Ski and Snowboard Club hosted a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where 63 UVM students spent 7 days, from January 3rd to the 10th.

The Ski and Snowboard Club has also been instrumental in bringing many ski and snowboard films to campus. In late October the club brought the FREEZE East Coast Movie Tour to Ira Allen Chapel showing Matchstick Productions’ newest film “Yearbook.” Many of the world’s top skiers, including CR Johnson, Mark Abma, Ingrid Backstrom, Dean Cummings, Rory Bushfield, TJ Schiller, Kent Kreitler, and Hugo Harrisson, met with UVMers and signed posters, magazines, and body parts. The UVM Ski and Snowboard Club was also responsible for bring TGR’s “Soul Purpose” and Level 1 Productions “High Five” to campus over the past year.

The Ski and Snowboard Club being relatively new is still establishing itself and figuring out what it can do as a club. Giving the nature of the sports, organizing events and activities can be a logistical nightmare in term of risk management. But there is power in number, the more members they have the more they will be able accomplish. They are currently planning a trip for this Spring Break, last year they the club hosted a trip to Whistler BC. They are also planning weekend trips for the near future. Chris Germain, UVM Junior and Co-President of the Ski and Snowboard club said, “I want everyone to join the club and just have the best time of their lives, do things they wouldn’t normally do, go places they wouldn’t normally go and just ski things they wouldn’t normally ski and just have fun doing it, whether that’s dropping 50ft cliffs or making your way down the green circles, no problem, it’s all about having fun.”

Don Watkins, UVM Junior and Treasurer of the club gave a slightly different reason why UVM student should join the club, “Girls like guys with skills, like numchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills, and ski and snowboard skills. That’s why I got involved with the ski and snowboard club.”