Ski and Snowboard Club hits Breckenridge

By Lillian Barkley

Considering the below-freezing temperatures sweeping the Midwest over the past week, a trip to Colorado will be a smooth transition for the University’s Ski and Snowboard Club. For the week of January 11, members of the club traveled to Breckenridge, Colo., for the club’s largest annual trip.

Roughly 250 people are attending, said Andrew Sheriff, senior in LAS and the club’s social chair. While some elected to fly, over 200 traveled in a total of three coach buses.

Though being stuck on a bus for over 16 hours may seem torturous, it’s one of the highlights of the trip for some.

“You get to know everyone,” Sheriff said. “We arrange it so everyone in the same condo is on the same bus, so you have 15 hours of bonding time.”

The ride there is only one aspect of the trip. The main event is, of course, Breckenridge itself. Located two hours from Denver, it is one of many resorts scattered throughout the Rockies. The ski area’s website boasts “2,908 acres of pure snow sports bliss,” and its five peaks offer a variety of terrain for all of the club members.

Fortunately, Breckenridge received five inches during their stay, based on the Tuesday snow report. All 34 lifts were open, as well as 94 percent of area terrain.

If members of the group want to go elsewhere, the resort is also linked to the nearby Keystone and Vail resorts, which all use the Epic Pass. A day trip to either resort by shuttle may be an option, according to Sheriff.

Overall, “it sounds like there’s a lot of options once we’re there,” he said.

Due to the group size, sticking together on the slopes is impossible. Off the mountain, activities are organized beforehand or by mass text. Though the exact itinerary is unclear, events are scheduled by Echo Tours, which specializes in arranging college snowsports trips.

During last year’s trip to Steamboat Springs, Colo., Echo organized an opportunity to visit a hot spring. If a natural spa is unavailable, a huge hot tub is the next best thing.

“There’s no better way to do it than just go straight in the hot tub after a long day of shredding,” Sheriff said, citing the tub as a popular group activity.

The club also plans to take full advantage of the après-ski scene in the village at the ski area’s base, where happy hour specials and live entertainment are scattered throughout the restaurants and begin when the last run ends.

Mountains may be nonexistent in Illinois, but the club stays active throughout the year. Social events at Kam’s and Brothers were organized during the fall semester, as well as an autograph session with professional skier Phil Casabon and Olympian Henrik Harlaut.

Even though it’s too late to sign up for the trip, there will be plenty of events during the spring semester, including a bar crawl and barn dance, according to Sheriff.

“We’ll have a good club experience even when we’re not on a mountain somewhere,” he said.

These events are also used for giveaways. The club is not sponsored by the University, but it has garnered a few high-profile sponsors including Rockstar Energy Drinks, Billabong and K2 Snowboarding. When sponsors send merchandise, Sheriff said it is used as a way to give back to the club.

Anyone with an interest in skiing and snowboarding can join.

“All you have to do is buy a shirt, and you’re pretty much in the club,” he said.

For those who feel that they missed out on Breckenridge, there’s always next year. Sheriff said that the next location is unknown, but they “definitely plan on continuing the tradition with the club.”

Lillian can be reached at [email protected]