The Colorado College Alpine Ski Team barely existed four years ago. When senior captain Devon Macleod first joined the team, she was one of three racers. The team now has 15 racers on the roster. The ski team offers a niche for skiers who raced before college and want to continue.
Ski racing is not an accessible or inexpensive sport. The demands of the block plan, the two-hour-plus drive, and the expense of renting space on the slopes, make regular practice impossible. Their season is short and intense. Every weekend, during fifth block, the team drives up to various resorts, like Winter Park and Loveland, to compete with other Rocky Mountain schools. Because the team goes into the races without much practice, prior race experience is almost a requirement.
As a part of the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, Colorado College competes in the Rocky Mountain Division against schools like Colorado State University, Denver University, and the Colorado School of Mines. The team faces the challenge of competing against teams that are bigger and have requirements to get a spot on the team.
“[For other schools] kids who didn’t want to commit to the D1 ski team join the club team,” senior captain Hanna Berglund said.
Ski racing may seem like an individual sport, but the winning team is calculated by combining the placing of the top three male and female racers for every team. So the depth of a team matters as much as the skill of its top racer. Despite having a smaller team, Colorado College often finishes second or third in races.
But for members of the team, the races are about more than the place in which they finish. Many people on the team grew up racing in Colorado and their old friends now ski for rival schools.
“It’s really fun to race for those who grew up in Colorado because every weekend is like a reunion,” Berglund said.
As competitors in an expensive sport, the athletes rely on the generosity of alumni as well as support from the school to pay for their races. The school, however, is only willing to fund the team for up to ten members. The growth in membership requires an increase in the program fee to 250 dollars per person.
Sophomore captain Alex Hager understands the demands of a larger team.
“More money to support more people on the team,” Hager said, “is the most critical need of the alpine team.”
Since the ski season is only a single block, racers can commit fully to skiing without interfering with their other athletic commitments. Hanna Berglund is the starting goalie for the women’s soccer team. Despite the risks of ski racing, Berglund convinced the soccer team to let her race.
“I have done both my whole life, so I convinced my coach that there was no reason for me to stop,” she said.
Ski racing may lack the appeal of the powdered couloirs of backcountry or the gravity defying tricks of park, but nobody skis faster than the racers. Like most Colorado College students, the alpine racers love to ski, but they choose to chase the primal need to go fast rather than the powder beard. With a larger roster, the ski team is primed to compete for Colorado College against the bigger schools in their conference. The Colorado College Alpine ski team’s first race is the weekend before fifth block on January 19 and 20 at Winter Park.