UCSB’s underrated Ski and Snowboard Team – the alpine racing club team – has finally awakened from its summer hibernation.

Consisting of over 100 members, the team competes on behalf of Santa Barbara during the winter months at Mammoth Mountain. Under the direction of the Southern California Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Conference, UCSB’s alpine racers ride the slopes in six areas of competition that include giant slaloms, slaloms, skier cross, snowboarding slaloms and the half pipe.

“We are not a club. We actually compete with Big West schools under the division of the Southern California Collegiate Ski and Snowboarding Conference,” Team President and senior Christina Amoroso said. “We have races weekly during the Winter Quarter.”

The Gauchos are currently the defending champions of the SCCSSC, and are working on bringing the title to Santa Barbara again in the 2007 season. The alpine racing team has already raced in two events, with the women placing as high as second, fourth and fifth in the individual skier giant slalom, and the top competitors in the men’s competition placing third, fourth and sixth in the skier slalom. Amoroso said that she sees promise for growth and success in the program’s near future.

“[Having] more members that place in the top six will get you points,” Amoroso said. “This shows a promising future.”

Champion teams are determined by how many accumulating points a team has after competing in all the races. Once all the races are over, the SCCSSC announces who posted the highest overall score throughout the conference, and that school is the winner and champion.

While the team has had success in the past, members were concerned at the beginning of the season that rising costs of lodging would deter new members from joining their ranks. However, the 2007 newbie class was quick to ease their concerns.

“We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to recruit new members because the cost of lodging at Mammoth went up and people wouldn’t want to pay,” Amoroso said. “We were astounded by all the people who wanted to join, and the talent that they were going to bring to the team.”

Last year, the Gaucho squad consisted of 65 team members, but it increased its numbers to around 100 this year. Although the alpine racing team receives some funding from the athletics program, the team basically funds itself. Members pay $330 per year, which includes transportation, via carpool or van, lodging at Mammoth, discounts on race tickets and discounts on ski and snowboarding equipment.

“[Joining the alpine racing team] was the best decision I have made in my college career,” Vice President and junior Art Eisberg said. “We spend all weekends together and I have made great friends through this team.”

Recruitment for this year has been closed, but if students are interested, recruiting for next season will start again in the fall of 2007 during Welcome Week. Students can also go to the team’s website, www.sbalpine.com, for more information.

“Anyone can join the team, beginners or experienced skiers or snowboarders,” Eisberg said. “We just want people who want to be there and be ready to compete and win.”

The squad is currently preparing for its upcoming slalom race and half pipe event, scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 27 and 28 at Mammoth Mountain.