Courtesy of Ava Day '25

Ski club members pose for a picture at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association’s national championship

March 26, 2023

Alpine Ski Team Races to Strong Season Finish Amidst Record Snowfall

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The Cornell Alpine Ski Team traveled to Mammoth Mountain, California in early March to compete in the United States Collegiate ​Ski and Snowboard Association national championship. 

The team had to navigate the West Coast’s record snowfall this winter. Mountainous regions were especially impacted, with travel disrupted and communities shut down. Amidst the disturbances to life in the region, the USCSA championships were also heavily impacted, with most of the races being canceled.

“It snowed almost ten feet on the mountain over the course of a week,” said Ryan Rupprecht ’25, co-public relations chair of the team. “It made our travel to get there and to leave exponentially more difficult, turning a four-hour drive into a 12-hour drive, and it was challenging for the mountain to actually host races.”

The championship was scheduled to host events from March 6 to March 11, but because of the heavy snow, only one day of alpine skiing races were held, on March 9. Both the men’s and women’s teams were able to race in the slalom discipline, where racers ski down a course while taking sharp turns through gates along the way. 

The men’s team placed seventh overall. Individually, Antoine Marc ’26 placed fifth and Eliza Hodgkins ’24 placed 14th. 

Even though the team was not able to compete in the conditions they had envisioned, they were still able to enjoy skiing on a mountain that has experienced more than 55 feet of snowfall this season.

“Most of our races ended up getting canceled, but we got a lot of really awesome free skiing in. I haven’t seen that much snow in my entire life,” said Ava Day ’25, co-public relations chair.

Hannah Epstein ’25 said that, after growing up skiing on the East Coast, she enjoyed having the opportunity to ski out west against different teams and under different conditions.

“Pretty much anyone who’s a skier knows that the East Coast is basically all ice,” Epstein said. “Out west, there’s usually much more snow — definitely a different feel to it.”

Aside from the unprecedented events at the national competition, the team had a successful season. At the USCSA regional championships, where teams compete for a spot in the national championship, the men’s team placed first, while the women’s ended up in a three-way tie for third.

The team typically practices three times a week, heading to Greek Peak in Cortland in the winter and working on strength training and team bonding in the off season. During the season, the skiers race against other collegiate teams every weekend, competing in both the slalom and giant slalom disciplines. 

Though Cornell doesn’t offer an National Collegiate Athletics Association Division 1 skiing program, the Alpine Ski Team’s status as a club allows experienced skiers to continue with the sport in college as well as new members to discover it. 

“I skied all throughout high school, and that was my main sport. I knew even before I decided to come to Cornell that they had a club ski team and that was one of the reasons I applied,” Day said. “I had an absolute blast racing my freshman year, and it was really nice to have that sports element from high school.”

Though only a limited number of racers per team can compete in high-level competitions, the team still has around 70 members involved with alpine skiing more casually. 

“We’re welcoming to anyone of all skiing abilities. We try to put many [junior varsity] spots in the races, and we’re open to having anyone get as involved as they want to.” Rupprecht said.

Leo Davies ’24, a club member who also competed at the USCSA championships, said that the club tries to expose as many Cornellians as possible to skiing, tabling at Clubfest each semester and aiming to create an inclusive team.

“[The team] just feels like a family,” Davies said. “All growing up skiing and then coming here, we’re connected through that, and that brought us together.”

Epstein, who has a knee injury that makes the short turns in slalom racing challenging, said that the team’s encouraging environment helped boost her spirits this season.

“The first slalom race that I finished this year was really great, because I was kind of rebuilding confidence that I could get down the courses, and my teammates were all cheering me on at the bottom,” Epstein said. “It’s great to have a team behind you in a more individual sport.”