Ski and board club hits the slopes, navigates lack of snow


The women’s ski team won first overall on Saturday and second overall on Sunday at Blue Mountain. (Photo courtesy of Meghan Gillis ’23)

The ski and board club kicked off its spring season with several trips over the past month.

The team first went to New Jersey, splitting up as some members attended “Winter4Kids” at the The National Winter Activity Center while others raced at Mountain Creek. Over the following weekends, the team traveled to Blue Mountain, Pa. and Belleayre Mountain, N.Y. before their trip this past weekend to Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville, Pa. was canceled due to a lack of snow.

For each trip, the freestylers typically do one day of slopestyle, which involves performing tricks and jumps while descending a course with obstacles, and one day of rail jam, which involves performing tricks on rails or pipes. The alpine team will do one day of slalom then one day of giant slalom, which has gates that are set further apart and a longer course.

Senior Theresa Chua, one of the freestyle captains, said that for trips like Blue Mountain, the team typically splits up. Before the competition, the freestylers practice at the terrain park while the alpine team inspects the slalom courses.

Chua makes sure everybody is where they need to be, has the proper equipment and that they are cheering each other on. Chua came in first for rail jam and second in slopestyle at Blue Mountain, while freshman Piper Chimento was right behind her in third for slopestyle.

The Lafayette women’s alpine team won first overall of 10 college teams on Saturday and second overall on Sunday at Blue Mountain. Senior club vice president Meghan Gillis came in first on Saturday and second on Sunday, while classmate Tate Gordon came in eighth on Saturday and 10th on Sunday.

The men also found success in the alpine competition, with sophomore Sebastian Bjorkeson coming in third on Saturday and second on Sunday. Classmate Charlie Steele finished in ninth on Sunday. The men’s team came in third overall on Saturday and fourth on Sunday.

Sebastian Wallach ’23 competes at Belleayre. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Burns ’22)

The team had additional standout performances at Belleayre. Gillis came in second, with classmate Allie Soper finishing fifth and Gordon in ninth. On the men’s side, freshman Joshua Libby came in ninth in his first race for Lafayette.

Lafayette had many top finishes in the female alpine slalom on Sunday, with Gillis coming in second, sophomore Lindsay Correll coming in fifth, Gordon coming in seventh and Soper finishing eighth. Bjorkeson had an impressive second place finish for the men. The women’s alpine team once again had fantastic overall scores and won both Saturday and Sunday at Belleayre.

“Sadly enough, our race this weekend was canceled at Camelback because they didn’t have enough snow. That was really disappointing, just because it’s another competition that could help people qualify for regionals,” Chua said. “They were trying to organize another race … but it was just too much of a quick turnaround so they couldn’t get anything organized this weekend.”

This year snow on the East coast has been sparse. Gillis said that several mountains she typically skis on have had to depend on human-made rather than natural snow.

“The ski industry is … definitely really threatened. It’s kind of sad to see how things like climate change are directly affecting things like my sport,” she said. “It’s interesting to see how in future years, maybe Lafayette won’t have a ski team or maybe our league won’t exist because we just don’t have any mountains to go to.”

Gillis explained that having primarily man-made snow without a base layer of natural snow beneath it creates a strange texture on the course, can prove dangerous if one falls and is often expensive for resorts.

“People will call them ‘golf balls’ or ‘sugar.’ It will basically be these really hard clumps of ice. You can definitely tell when there’s a lot of man-made snow instead of natural snow and it’s not very fun to ski on or ideal for competing at all,” Gillis said.

Next up for the team will be a race at Hunter Mountain, N.Y. before they take on regionals. Depending on how regionals go, the team could have an opportunity to qualify for nationals once again this year, which will be in Monmouth, Calif.

“I’ve been doing it with these people since I was a freshman. We’ve been on the team together for so long. Ever since I’ve been at Lafayette we have won the regionals every single year. We’re the same team, it just really depends on how other schools do,” Gillis said. “I say at the top to everyone, I don’t care if you win, just finish the race and we’ll be fine.”