CMC has a new freeskiing club

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A few skiers piled out of a packed sport utility vehicle in a snow-covered parking lot at the top of Buffalo Pass late last week with shovels in their hands and skiing on their minds.

Within a few minutes of arriving, the hardworking skiers had used a few inches of snow to build a short path and a jump that led to a slide rail in the lot.

The skiers acted as a team to get the job done but officially, they are not yet a team -- just a club.

"It's like a family," said Drew Stachnik, organizer and club president of the new competitive ski club at Colorado Mountain College. "I got the idea to start the club this summer and took it to the SGA (Student Government Association) at the start of the school year. They approved us, and we've been going strong ever since."

The freeskier said members of the ski club eat lunch together nearly every day, spend their weekends hanging out watching movies and all share a love of sliding down the snow, whether on skis or a board, into the new world of "free" skiing.

Student government adviser Dan Schaffrick said the college is excited about this new competitive ski club, which reaches out to freestyle skiers and snowboarders.

"We've had a competitive Alpine program for some time, but this is an outlet for some of our other students," Schaffrick said. "We provide them with a little support for competition fees and hopefully get the college's name out there in the winter."

The club drew about 25 members to its first dry-land training session Sept. 25. About 20 of those students met the mandatory training requirement and were named as part of the team last week. Several of those skiers got on the snow for the first time Friday on Buff Pass.

Stachnik said the athletes on this year's team had to show their dedication to the club by completing at least 50 hours of dry-land training.

"This is a very diverse group," Stachnik said. "They are all very dedicated to the club."

The team is made up of snowboarders and freeskiers, about half each, who compete at different levels in slopestyle, halfpipe, skiercross and snowboardercross events. Stachnik said the club would support members at the pro or open level, the intermediate level and the beginning level this winter. The club is attempting to cover the athletes' entry fees for events.

The club just wrapped up its two-a-day training sessions and will now train on snow three days a week and watch video analysis one day a week.

Stachnik said he looked at several programs, including the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the Colorado Mountain College Alpine ski program, when he decided to organize the club.

There are no coaches in the program, and athletes must pay a $100 fee to become a part of the team.

"A lot of skiers think that not having coaches is a weakness, but I think it is one of our strongest points," Stachnik said.

Instead of coaches, the club relies on its members to offer advice and pass along techniques or experience to one another.

Stachnik said the club is seeking financial support from sponsors and is looking to hold fund-raisers and perform community service projects this year. The team is trying to line up a sponsor for team jackets, too.

Stachnik is hoping the new club will prove it's viable this winter and will some day become a fully funded team at the college.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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