Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

How Tufts students are taking to the slopes this winter

Groups on campus are striving to make winter sports more accessible.

image000001.jpg

Killington Resort, Vt., is pictured.

Flying down the mountain as the wind slaps your face: Skiing is a dance of control and freedom. Your skis cut into the edge of the mountain, carving up snow (or ice) as you turn. When you get to the bottom of the mountain, it’s straight back up the lift for another run.

Many Tufts students are avid skiers, but the sport’s high entry cost can make it prohibitively expensive. To go skiing, you need to purchase gear, obtain expensive ski tickets and have access to a mountain. Ski passes can be as expensive as $113 on a weekday in New Hampshire. On top of that, gear rentals generally cost over $50 for a single-day rental.

These costs can be especially hard for students to front. To address the issue, several campus organizations are seeking to make the sport accessible for all Tufts students.

The Tufts Mountain Club is seeking to provide affordable skiing opportunities for both beginner and advanced students. Sophomore Patrick Hennessey, the club’s ski and aqua director, spoke to these efforts.

“I want to …  [see] a lot of people out there skiing that have never [skied] or wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to,” Hennessey said. “Skiing is very exclusive, very expensive, and if TMC can be the gateway for people to get into skiing, that would be great.”

This weekend, TMC will be hosting its annual Skikend event, which is focused on getting beginner skiers to the slopes. Students will stay at the Loj, TMC’s property in New Hampshire. The club will then ski at Dartmouth Skiway, which is only about an hour away from the Loj and boasts 28 trails, most of which are at a beginner to intermediate skill level.

In addition to joining in on club trips, students can borrow ski gear for free from TMC’s office at 17 Chetwynd Road, affectionately known as Chet.

“We just got a donation, so now we have eight or nine pairs of alpine skis, boots. … We have snow pants with goggles, helmets and poles,” Hennessey said. “You can basically go to our place, Chet, and pick up an entire ski outfit. … I would say a lot of people don’t utilize [that] resource.”

After checking out gear, TMC members can sign up to go on ski trips organized by fellow TMC members in the trips board channel of the club’s Slack workspace. Then it’s time to hit the slopes and make new friends while shredding the gnar. 

First-year Stuart Baybutt, an avid skier, found other enthusiastic skiers and a sense of community through TMC.

It’s really easy to get involved,” he said. “You always go on trips with upperclassmen, or people you’ve never met before, and then you can ski with them the full day and make new friends.”

In addition to providing opportunities for beginning skiers, Hennessey also noted that he wants to foster activities for advanced skiers. He especially wants to help develop activities that have lapsed since the pandemic, such as alpine touring and backcountry skiing.

“TMC has a big history of all sorts of traditions … some of that got lost during COVID,” he said. “I want to try to bring [that] back and hopefully bring some of those skiers together.”

In that vein, TMC is hosting a ski-centric weekend at the Loj the weekend after Skikend. This weekend focuses on providing a space for experienced skiers to get out on the slopes in all styles of skiing. The weekend features trips for resort skiing, snowboarding, telemark skiing and backcountry skiing.

Beyond TMC, Tufts also offers other opportunities for students to get involved in skiing.

For those who ski competitively or would like to, Tufts has its own club skiing team. The team competes throughout the winter and practices two times a week at Wachusett Mountain in central Massachusetts and Ski Bradford in northern Massachusetts.

Mary Boshar, captain of the women's ski team, has skied competitively since she was around 8 years old. After discovering Tufts had a ski team, she realized she could continue to engage with her passion for competitive skiing in college. Now, as a senior, she is leading the team as it expands.

“The interest every year just grows and grows,” Boshar said. “The team for a long time, maybe forever, has been pretty much open to people of all abilities. So we made the decision to continue not making cuts based on people’s skiing ability or experience.”

Ben Sagerian, captain of the men’s ski team, noted that the team is open even to those who have not ski raced before. He elaborated that the team has a unique recruitment process.

We do it based on commitment,” Sagerian said. “Everyone is required to come to our general interest meeting … and then after that we do three weeks of dryland training. … Then, [prospective skiers] have to come to an office hour where they chat with us.”

The team seeks to provide a positive environment for competitive skiing while  fostering a love for the sport. In addition to competitive success, including a trip to nationals last year for the women’s team, the team is also a lot of fun.

“I think there’s also an air of really fun chaos,” Sagerian said. “Controlled chaos, of course, but I feel like there’s just always a spontaneity with this team that’s really, really fun.”

While skiing is what brings the team together, the members’ academic interests and social circles at Tufts vary. Boshar noted that the team brings together people from all majors and aspects of Tufts.

Some of my best friends are people that I’ve met through the team and definitely would not have met otherwise, she said.

Sagerian echoed this sentiment, speaking to the diversity of the team.

“You literally get people from every corner of this university,” he said.

Regardless of whether you are racing down the mountain or learning for the first time, both Club Ski and TMC are hoping to get Tufts students to the slopes this winter. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet some interesting and fun people along the way.

“[I] hope that people can just enjoy the feeling of going down a mountain for the first time,” Baybutt said. “It is a pretty awesome feeling.”