Conquering an 11,053-foot mountain and 187 inches of snow in three months would be an extraordinary task for most skiers and snowboarders, especially if you aren’t a member of the UCSB alpine racing club team.
The environment at Mammoth Mountain over the past month has led to exceptional conditions, however; several feet of new snow in December caused the first races of the season for the team to be canceled.
With over 100 members on the team and over 100 more who would like to join, the alpine racing team is one of the most popular club sports at UCSB.
Snowboarders and skiers of all abilities comprise the team, though snowboarders outnumber skiers two to one. The team, however, makes an effort to get along both on and off the slopes.
“There is a really good dynamic on our team; everyone gets along really well,” sophomore secretary Jessica Nolan said. “I’ve never experienced any resentment toward skiers until I went to Big Bear this past weekend with some friends.”
Each member of the team who wants to compete is allowed to compete in five different divisions: giant slalom and boardercross for the snowboarders, and slalom, giant slalom and skiercross for the skiers. Boardercross and skiercross tend to be the favorite events among the members of the team because of the aggressive nature of the event, where six competitors race over jumps and around turns to cross the finish line.
“Skiercross is definitely my favorite event,” Nolan said. “It’s aggressive and you just go balls out. It’s brutal, but fun.”
Aside from racing and having fun on the slopes, the team tries to give back to the community. The athletes annually take kids from Devereux up to a local mountain, such as Mount High, and spend the day teaching the kids how to ski.
“It’s a great event for our team,” senior publicity officer Sean Bossler said. “Everyone last year had a lot of fun and some of them still keep in touch with the kids.”
With a #1 nationally ranked snowboarding team and an exceptional ski team, members of the squad hope for great things when the National Championships come around March 3-8 at Lake Tahoe.
“I’m really looking forward to going to Nationals in Tahoe,” Bossler said. “It’s awesome to have nationals in California.”
UCSB’s athletes hope to capitalize on strong results with four more events remaining, including regionals and nationals. On Jan. 11-12, the Gauchos placed first in the men’s ski giant slalom, men’s and women’s snowboard giant slalom, women’s skiercross and men’s boardercross.
“Our biggest competition is probably Long Beach State,” Bossler said. “They have a lot of really good people on their team.”
The team is determined to regain the regional championship this year, after last year’s disappointing second-place finish. It was the first time in eight years that the team had not finished first in the region.
“I guarantee we are going to win SCCSC [Southern California Collegiate Snowsport Conference] this year,” senior fundraising coordinator Brett Barnes said.
THIS WEEKEND’S EVENTS:
Jan. 25-26: men’s and women’s Ultimate Tournament, all day at Storke and Rob Gym Fields
Feature Game on Saturday night at Harder Stadium at 7