For many students on campus, the bitter cold temperatures and the showering of snow is an excuse not to go to class, but for the West Chester Ski Team, it means better conditions for racing where reaching speeds of 40 mph is not only common, but expected. While very few students are aware that the West Chester Ski Team even exists, it is in fact the only competitive team from West Chester University to compete against Division I schools. As members of the Allegheny Collegiate Ski Conference (ACSC), West Chester’s Ski Team competes at various resorts in the Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia Areas. Colleges from this conference consists of 10 schools in those areas.
The Allegheny Collegiate Ski Conference sponsors the organization of five races throughout the winter season. Racers from each school compete in two races a weekend that consist of slalom and giant slalom style events. While both slalom and giant slalom races are events packed with intense speeds and sharp turns, they are very different in structure.
Slalom races are usually held on shorter but steeper courses. In this style of race, skiers are required to make many sharp turns through designated gates while reaching speeds approaching 40 mph. Giant slalom races are usually held on longer courses, where wider turns and more speed is generated. Both types of races are difficult, and one mistake could disqualify you for the rest of the event.
All races take place at the beginning of each spring semester for the first five consecutive weekends. For the top teams who qualify, the Mid-Atlantic Regional and the USCA Nationals competition is held following the conclusion of the ACSC races.
While this years ski team representing West Chester doesn’t expect to qualify for regional or national events, they still enjoy the intense competition.
“We aren’t out there breaking records,” said club Vice President Ned Buckingham. “Normally we finish in the middle of the field. It’s all about having fun and going out and meeting people from other schools.”
This year’s team had one of their better seasons with the women’s team finishing fifth place, and the men’s team finishing 6th. According to the team’s vice president, Ned Buckingham, the fact that the team did so well this year, with out many of the opportunities as some of the other schools, is very encouraging. However, with one more year of racing experience under their belts, West Chester’s team hopes to improve for next season.
“A lot of the teams we are competing against have more opportunities and coaching experience,” said Ned Buckingham. ” Many of the racers from other schools have been competing in slalom their entire lives, and some receive scholarships to compete. We don’t have much racing experience, and don’t require it to be on
“As long as there is even a little bit of snow we’ll be out there,” said Ned Buckingham. “We will always try and get as many runs as possible.”
With the 2006 season in the books, the West Chester Ski team hopes to acquire new members, with or without racing experience. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the ski team will be in the lobby of Sanderson Hall at 3:30 p.m. passing out fliers and recruiting new members. If you have a passion to ski and a desire to compete, the West Chester Ski team is an experience you’ll always remember, with friends you’ll never forget.