Some students don”t just pray for snow, Michigan”s alpine ski team actually travels to it.
In a single season, the team has anywhere from four to six competitions it travels to usually at Crystal or Schuss Mountains, both northern Michigan. Though members said their main reason for going isn”t to win, it”s just to enjoy the slopes.
“There”s not really a lot of stress on how people do individually,” co-captain Dave Whipp said. “For a lot of people, it”s just a way to get out of town.”
For other team members, joining the team was a way to stay in shape during college and meet new people.
“Its just a good experience to continue in the sport,” said co-captain Ryan Ahlberg. “The ski team mixes having fun while you”re in college and staying involved in athletics.”
Although the team cannot practice year round, members get to know one another through team events such as ultimate frisbee sessions.
The team competes in the Michigan Division of the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association. Their biggest rivals are the 80-member teams from Western Michigan and Michigan State. Grand Valley State, Notre Dame, Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech also compete in the division.
During competition, the team is divided into men”s and women”s teams. Skiers race according to their level of expertise, with some having almost no previous racing experience.
“It doesn”t really matter if you”ve raced before or not we have such a wide variety of skiers,” Whipp said, adding that a few team members prepare to race after only their fourth or fifth skiing experience.
Members of the team then get to compete in two races: The slalom, which is based off technique, and the giant slalom, which is faster and longer.
Even though they didn”t get a lot of practice time, the men”s and women”s teams finished third in their Jan. 12 meet, the first of the season.
At a three-day invitational in Ohio last weekend, members of the team came in first and second in the slalom and second and third in the giant slalom.
Though winning is nice, Ahlberg said the most important part of being on the team is representing Michigan through sportsmanship.
“It”s competitive but it”s not too competitive,” he said. “I”m just proud to be able to represent the University in an organization that lets students be athletes.”