While the Winter Olympics in Vancouver were wrapping up back in February, the UCSB Ski and Snowboard Team was picking up steam coming down the homestretch of another successful campaign. A strong regular season showing including a weather-shortened Regional Qualifier allowed the Gauchos to send six individuals to the USCSA Nationals, with sophomore skier Julia Dubinina taking home gold in the women’s freestyle.
As one of 10 schools in the Southern California Collegiate Snowsports Conference, a Southern California ski and snowboard conference, the Gauchos finished first in overall points for a freestyle ski team, alpine ski team, snowboard team and combined ski and snowboard team. Not bad for a team that many still confuse with the Ski and Snowboard Club.
“The difference between us and [the club] is that we only have about 60 members and are a lot more dedicated to going up to Mammoth to practice every weekend,” team President Haley Yolken said.
After much persistence from Yolken, the team received funding to pay for a season-long lease of a condominium in Mammoth from Associated Students, cutting down much of the costs that are generally associated with the Ski and Snowboard Club, who also plan outings to ski resorts but charge members more to go.
Dubinina was joined by teammate Haley Ells on the podium, as the junior skier took second in an event that combines scores from skier-cross, slopestyle and half-pipe. Santa Barbara sophomore Melissa Tidd also performed admirably, finishing fourth in the overall standings.
“Our real competition in women’s freestyle was from [The University of Colorado at] Boulder, and our girls blew them away in the skier-cross,” sophomore snowboard captain Evan Smith said. “I could definitely see them taking Nationals again next year.”
On the men’s side, Smith placed fifth in the giant slalom while freshman snowboarder Danny Night took 11th in the slopestyle. Freshman skier Mike Scinto also made the trip to the Sunday River Resort in Maine to compete in the men’s freestyle, but was knocked out of action early due to injury.
“[Six competitors] is the most we’ve sent to Nationals in recent memory,” Smith said. “Our team’s full of first and second years so everyone’s amped on what the future could bring.”
In the present, UCSB can take pride in the accomplishments of a season that ended soon after Spring Break.
While getting shaped up for competition is undoubtedly the team’s main objective, they also know how to have fun doing it. Back in April, Smith, sophomore ski captain Ingmar Prokop and boarder cross specialist Erik Norberg took part in the College Games at Mammoth sponsored by Fuel TV, entering a relay race where both time and limiting beer spillage from a personalized chalice where judged.
At race’s end, UCSB endured the elements and won it all, with each competitor receiving a season pass to the resort.
Though the average skill level of members of the Ski and Snowboard Team has improved over the years, Yolken and the other team officers encourage all powder-inclined individuals to consider coming out. Tryouts are not necessary.
“We are a tight knit group,” Yolken said. “Everybody hangs out together and gets to have a lot of fun doing something we love.”