By Lorea Zabaleta
March 1, 2020 marked Colorado College’s first Snow Day — potentially the start of a long-lasting tradition for the Outdoor Education program at CC. The purpose of this event was to provide CC students with an extremely affordable (free minus a refundable deposit) opportunity to ski, snowboard or simply enjoy the outdoors in winter if they had not previously had the chance to do so.
Snow Day sign-ups opened up on Monday, Feb. 10th, and within 10 minutes all of the spots were filled. Seventy-one participants ended up attending the event, with 64 of them renting equipment.
The three point-people in making Snow Day happen were Sofia Infante ’21, recent graduate Cody Leong, and Outdoor Education Assistant Director Rachael Abler. Leong says that “the original idea for Snow Day was from Sofia” and aimed to create an event to help make snow sports at CC more accessible.
“The winter sports program has been predominately focused on backcountry skiing and snowboarding, which unfortunately is inherently inaccessible for a number of reasons, and has the perception of being dominated by people of a specific demographic. With Snow Day we wanted to have an event that hopefully worked against that perception, by having an event where anyone could enjoy winter sports even with no prior experience or knowledge,” Leong said. “In addition, an event that CC put on in the past, Rail Jam, was discontinued last year, which left a gap in winter-themed events at CC, something that we wanted to fix by putting on Snow Day!”
Infante expresse a similar sentiment. “[I] believe the outdoors are for everyone in any form. Being outdoorsy means loving the outdoors and finding meaning and passion in that, not just doing extreme sports,” said Infante. “Through an all paid for and student-guided ‘Snow Day’, I wanted to tear down these barriers and invite students to make their own definition of ‘outdoorsy.’”
Infante first came up with the idea while working as the Student Life and Leadership Intern at the Office of Sustainability. She says it began abstractly, but solidified through work with Ryan Hammes of Outdoor Ed. The process of making the day a reality was a long group effort full of emails, hours of hard work, logistical wrangling, and support from the greater CC community.
“Thank you to CCSGA, The Office of Sustainability, Outdoor Education, The Butler Center, the Freeriders Union of Colorado College, CC Athletics, and the various individuals who made this possible,” Abler said. Infante echoed this gratitude.
Even though one bus got stuck on ice en route to Monarch, the day exceeded expectations.
“The day was a blast! It was so awesome to see everyone out there laughing together, falling together, and just overall living it up in the outdoors together,” said Infante. “The stoke was high and through the day students communicated to me that they were so grateful and happy to be there. That was all I could ask for — to have this day be a resounding success.”
Emma Singer ’22 talked about why she signed up for Snow Day and how her experience went. “I signed up for Snow Day because I had never skied before in my life and couldn’t afford to do once I came to CC and had the mountains right here,” Singer said. “I really enjoyed the whole day; my instructor was amazing at teaching me exactly what I needed to do (like stopping) so I could go on my own and have lots of fun!”
“I will definitely try to ski again in the future if it is affordable, such as any possible future Outdoor Ed ski trips that are low-cost … I hope this day is offered in future years for CC students like me to finally try something it seems the majority of the student body really enjoys, and I’m glad I found out I enjoy it, too!”
Fingers are crossed that this event continues in the future. “I would love to see Snow Day become an annual event here on campus, and if it occurs again, potentially even making it a larger-scale event so that more people could get outside during the winter,” said Leong. “The decision for 75 participants was made in order to keep logistics for this pilot event manageable. Any ideas and lessons from this year could be used to make the event bigger and better for the future, which I’d love to see, even as an alum.”
Infante also envisions a future for Snow Day, with growing financial support for the event. “It would also be amazing to have this become an annual event, with hopes in the future to be a multi-day overnight ski adventure!”