Hittin' the Slopes
Jeremy Slovak is one of several students working hard in the classroom and on the slopes. Photo by team captain Ben Streeter.
For many college students, Spring Break means sun, sand and sea.
But not for Carnegie Mellon University's ski and snowboard team. They are in Idaho's Sun Valley — home of the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association's National Championships.
It's the first time the club team has qualified for the competition.
"We've been growing in size and competitiveness consistently, and it's great that we're at this level as such a young organization," said Coach Hugh Dunn, also a 2006 graduate of CMU's College of Fine Arts.
Students involved appreciate the chance to excel both in the classroom and on the playing field. The clubs also establish their own leadership, structure, membership requirements, competition schedules, dues and fundraising events.
Dunn emphasizes the level of work required to bring the team to this level in such a short time.
"The team has been working hard to get to this point both on and off the slopes."
Ben Streeter (E'11), Jeff Bizzak (E'11), Katie Dickson (HS'12), Maryanna Saenko (E'10,'11) and Jeremy Slovak (CS'12) are representing the 27-member team in Sun Valley.
The team participates in five competitions during January and February sponsored by the Allegheny Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Conference.
Conference teams span Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia and include the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University, West Virginia University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Davis and Elkins College, and Bucknell, Villanova and West Chester universities.
"A majority of our members have skied most of their lives, but only four of us had race experience before joining the team," said Streeter, the team's captain.
For the third consecutive year, CMU's conference standings earned the team a spot to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, held Feb. 18-19 at Hunter Mountain in New York.
They took first place in the women's and second in the men's freestyle competitions.
Freestyle competitors participate in half-pipe and slope-style events made popular at the Winter X Games.
They also participate in skier cross, the only new sport introduced at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.