Without a coach, training facility or even easy access to a mountain, no one would expect the CSU Alpine Ski Team to make the national competitions this March in Sunday River, Maine.
No one except the CSU Alpine Ski Team.
“We’re looking to kill it there this year,” Andrew Berglund, the team’s president and co-captain, said of February’s regional qualifying competition in Snow Basin, Utah.
“We’re ready to take it over.”
The team accepts skiers of all abilities early in the fall semester and consists of 18 athletes, nine men and nine women. As a club team, the skiers must raise most of their funds themselves.
The club raises its $15,000 budget by soliciting donations, raffling off gear — the team receives free gear from its sponsor, Mountain Dew — and, for the past two years, offering tunings and waxes for students’ skis and boards.
In a makeshift shop in the brick maintenance sheds on the south end of the campus’s intramural athletic fields, the skiers apply years of experience each Wednesday afternoon for a price they say is far less than local ski shops.
“We definitely know what we’re doing,” said Dani Sack, a sophomore fish wildlife and conservation biology major who has been on the team for the last two years. Sack has been waxing her own skis since she began ski racing at age nine.
Despite the value and quality of the service, the team has only seen about 20 customers over the course of the last three Wednesdays, Sack said.
The team keeps its costs low by staying in budget hotels or friends’ condos while traveling. Despite this frugal approach, they will need to raise more money if they hope to pay for a trip to Maine this season, the team’s treasurer and co-captain Luc Chaney said.
“It’s hard to raise money on a college campus because no one has any money,” Chelsey Fretz, a sophomore and international studies and history major, said.
Fretz has been a member of the women’s team for both years that she has been at CSU. In the team’s history, the women have never made the national competition, but with an influx of new talent, they expect to shine on the slopes this season.
The team has grown from five to nine skiers, and each of the athletes now has competitive racing experience. Because of the long drive to the slopes, the team does not have any way to gauge the talent of its new recruits other than dry-land training sessions.
“We haven’t seen (the new athletes) on the snow yet,” Sack said.
The team will travel to their first competition, the first of eight competitions over the course of four consecutive weekends, in Steamboat Springs on Jan. 23. Athletes will compete in slalom and giant slalom events.
Despite competing against opponents including CU-Boulder or Western State, which are nestled in the mountains and have team coaches, the men of the Alpine Ski Team usually place in the top-three of the nine schools that often compete, Berglund, a junior civil engineering major, said.
The team has a laid-back approach to training, an aspect that members of the team said is a welcome change from the intensive regimens they were subjected to as younger racers.
While the team prides itself of having a fun and relaxed attitude, they turn out to each meet with every intention of playing to win.
“When we actually get on the course, we get our work done,” Fretz said.
Senior Reporter Matt Minich can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org.