By Alexa Solis
The snow-capped mountains of mid-November only mean one thing for a certain group of students at the University of Nevada, Reno — ski season is coming.
The UNR Winter Sports Club welcomed the long-awaited season with its 33rd annual Ski Swap last Friday through Sunday. The swap raised funds for the upcoming ski and snowboarding season.
Due to UNR’s proximity to the Sierra Nevada mountains, many competitive skiers and snowboarders choose the university to be able to continue competing, according to club president Graham Collins. Collins wanted to join the UNR Ski Team his freshman year; however, the team was cut in 2010.
“I was hoping to be on the UNR Ski Team,” Collins said. “It was a goal of mine ever since I was a kid.”
According to Collins, the Winter Sports Club has made enough money to become an athletic team by the university’s standards, but the university has yet to recognize them as an entity.
“[In 2010, the university] said we had to make enough money to fund a team for the next four years, so we needed to make roughly half a million dollars,” Collins said. “We got that half a million dollars. We had the money to support the team, and the university did not accept us into varsity status. There’s probably a lot more complications to that but that’s the broad spectrum of it.”
In an effort to continue raising money and maintain viability for once again becoming a varsity sport, the club hosts the UNR Ski Swap. Vendors and donors bring a variety of snow gear to the club. The snow gear is then sold, and a portion of the proceeds goes toward the club and the rest goes to vendors who sold the goods.
While there is an emphasis on competitive skiing and snowboarding, since a varsity team no longer exists, the Winter Sports Club has been home to anyone and everyone interested in skiing or snowboarding at UNR. According to Collins, there are two sides to the club ,⎯ competitive and social.
The competitive side is a remnant of the university’s former NCAA team. The club’s competitive members work throughout the summer, and practice on the slopes of Northstar and Squaw Valley during the winter months in order to challenge their competition in division II collegiate skiing and snowboarding. The club’s ultimate goal is to make it to the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association’s national competition.
According to freshman competitive skier and club member John Tillis, the club is an exceptional way for people that have raced all their lives to continue being competitive.
“We ski train throughout the whole winter, right now we’re just doing dry land,” Tillis said. “A lot of us work out throughout the week too, just to keep up.”
Though there is a highly competitive edge for some members, the Winter Sports Club is also open to every skill level, even teaching students how to ski or snowboard, according to Collins. In many cases, the club will give leftover donated goods from the Ski Swap to members in need of equipment. According to Collins, one of the most satisfying parts of being involved in the club is putting smiles on the faces of those eager to learn.
Club member and freshman social skier Josh Bell, has been enjoying his time with his teammates. He also mentioned that he has made numerous new friends and has also enjoyed getting to be familiar with the more competitive members.
“I’m all about relationships and friendships, and going up and carpooling with a group of people and building those lifelong friendships that you do create in the ski teams,” Collins said. “They’re some of my best friends that I’ve had throughout my life. These teams help build those friendships and relationships, and the club allows us to do it at an affordable price.”
Alexa Solis can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @alexacsolis.