September 10, 2021 ACTIVE LIFE | By Lorea Zabaleta | Photo courtesy of the author
While historically there has been no lack of stoke amongst Colorado College students with regards to skiing and free skiing, there wasn’t an official outlet for it. This past year, a group of CC students set out to change that.
After running into each other at a competition in Grand Targhee in March 2021, Soren Gessner ’23 and Cat Krupka ’24 realized they had the “exact” same thought — to start a freeride skiing club team at CC.
“While the Freeriders Union of Colorado College (FUCC) is a great initiative, it is more focused on getting skiers into the sport than supporting existing skiers,” Gessner said. “We hope to be able to work closely with FUCC to transition and build up new skiers who want to take their skiing to the next level.”
To those unfamiliar, FUCC has been one of a few organized ski and ride outlets available at Colorado College, other than Outdoor Education sponsored trips, informal Facebook groups, and group chats.
The club runs a ski bus to popular destinations on the Epic and Ikon passes, once put on the controversial “rail jam,” and runs Winter Fest (a multi-day ski and ride celebration in the spring). An outlet for organized, official competition is new.
While Krupka said they have been able to get CC Freeride up on the website and themselves on the club captains’ email list, a club team has to exist for two years before it’s official – and that’s a long time. CC won’t provide funding through the traditional club channels until those two years are up.
“We kind of, like, don’t actually exist,” Krupka said. “We have to look for funding this year and it’s hard because skiing is already exclusionary. We want to make the club accessible and without funding for ski passes and competitions, that’s really difficult.”
To cement the club’s reputation there needs to be a strong turnout of students. In a sport that is predominately white and wealthy, and one that requires certain levels of risk, the club could face a host of challenges and difficulties.
“If you’re sending students to a mountain to compete, you definitely want to have a strong presence and get people on the podium,” Jordan Cooper ’22 said. “We need to have the numbers to do that.”
According to Krupka, the niche nature of the sport and daring involved in competitions — think cliff jumps — could dissuade members from competing. Even so, there isn’t a prerequisite of big mountain skiing experience required to join the team.
All around, the enthusiasm for the upcoming season is high, especially around the prospects of having more ski buddies. Members are excited to strengthen the skiing community and make new friends through the social sport they all enjoy.
“Skiing is about meeting people, hanging out, and having fun,” Cooper said. “Whether you’re competing and dropping cliffs, or not, I think this club will be a really great place to make new friends.”
“I’m stoked to see the content and team building that will come out of this team,” Gessner said. “Skiing is one of those sports where you improve when you’re around people who are challenging you and having fun. CC Freeride will do just that.”