The Ohio State Ski and Board Team is not letting the warmer winter weather ruin its plans to go to nationals. Members continue to practice at Mad River Mountain in Bellefontaine, Ohio, despite the fluctuating weather.
Ski Team, as members call it, is a club sport that welcomes students of all levels to ski or snowboard with them throughout the winter months.
“If you want to make friends who ski and snowboard, then Ski Team is for you because we’re all about camaraderie,” said Hayley Hartman, president of the Ski Team and a fourth-year in strategic communication.
Members go to Mad River Mountain on different days of the week, and on some weekends they set up gates or poles in the ground that participants race between for slalom. In slalom, racers try to get down the hill, between the gates, as quickly as they can. Then they race each other, going two times each, trying to beat other members as well as their own time.
Members race each other because “there are no other schools in Ohio who still have ski-race teams, even though (the club) reached out and (they’ve) tried to help other schools start them,” Hartman said.
Hartman said anyone who joins Ski Team can compete and go to regional competitions. This year’s regionals took place Saturday and Sunday in Marquette, Michigan, where the team competed in slalom, giant slalom and skier/boarder cross. Giant slalom is similar to normal slalom, but the gates are set further apart. Skier/boarder cross involves three to four people racing down a course that usually has sharp bank turns and jumps.
“Most people that race for us have never raced before,” Hartman said.
There are around 150 people on the team; around 40 of those members race, and 120 of them went on a trip to Crested Butte in Colorado. Members rode on buses and then spent four days skiing and snowboarding.
“Just being able to ski, there’s no terrain like that around here,” said Jeff Meyer, a third-year in electrical engineering and member of the team who went on the Colorado trip. “So just the long runs, the steep runs.”
Some members of Ski Team may compete in nationals this March. Last year, three students went to nationals, including Hartman.
One of the most successful members is Reilly Harris, a fourth-year in aerospace engineering, who won gold in the dual slalom two years ago at the U.S. Collegiate Ski Association Nationals.
Harris got silver his first year at nationals in Sun Valley, Idaho, in the dual slalom and almost made it to the top three in the slalom. He said his favorite memory from the ski team is when he won the gold in Lake Placid, New York.
Harris said, even now, despite the erratic weather, “there is always at least a group of people that would go out to Mad River every day.”
“For being a rag-tag team of people who just haven’t raced before and just like to ski and snowboard, we actually do pretty well against other teams,” Hartman said.