Ski/Snowboard team competes for national spot
Before the Rutgers Ski/Snowboard Team has the opportunity to maintain its presence at the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association National Championship in Lake Placid, N.Y. in March, they have to compete in two more regular season competitions and regionals.
Jesse Prager, the team’s president, said most of the University’s skiers and snowboarders hope to win the opportunity to participate in the regional competition.
Nicole Ascione, vice president of the team, said since the regional competition is in New York, its proximity allows Rutgers students to come and support the team.
“We’re hoping to make regionals as a team,” said Ascione, a Rutgers Business School senior.
The women’s ski team, which participated in the national championship last year, is first in the New Jersey conference of the USCSA, said Prager, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
“I got second place finish out of 65 male competitors this season, which is pretty cool,” he said.
The regular competition season kicked off Jan. 9 in Blue Mountain, P.A. The women skiers won the competition in the giant slalom race, and the men’s skiers placed fourth, Prager said.
The New Jersey conference finals take place on Feb. 8 and 9, and USCSA Mid Atlantic Regionals are held Feb. 13 to 15, he said.
Tom McCullough, men’s snowboard captain, said one team member, John Fox, was an integral part of freestyle snowboarding, establishing himself as a real competitor in the USCSA. Both freestyle skiing and snowboarding are now official parts of USCSA tournaments.
McCullough, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, said despite a larger number of males on the team than females, the number of female skiers has grown in the past year. The split is roughly 60 percent men and 40 percent women.
Ascione said the freestyle team has been better this year due to new team members, who can perform flips, tricks off rails and other advanced freestyle tricks.
As vice president, Ascione handles many semantics with the team, including sending medical reports when team members are injured. The team started the season with about 65 members, but due to various injuries, the number of competing members is down to around 55.
McCullough said he broke his wrist in a freestyle event at the competition last weekend in Hunter, N.Y., so his competing has come to a halt.
He continues to perform captain-related responsibilities, such as answering questions and making starting schedules for the competitions so the team knows who is competing in what events, he said.
McCullough has been on the team since his first year at Rutgers, and said he has made some of his best friends on the team.
“It’s a great team and a lot of great people,” he said. “Everybody is so friendly and doing what they want to do.”
Ascione, executive board member of all club sports, has been on the team for four years and served as team treasurer before becoming vice president. She said despite the hard work, it has proven to be worth it.
“It’s the best thing I’ve done in college, hands down,” she said. “We get to spend every weekend [during the season] in hotel rooms hanging out with other schools.”
Most of Prager’s responsibilities for the team are completed before the actual competition season begins. He said he works out an adequate budget, comes up with the costs of dues and makes sure everyone is academically eligible.
“I work as a liaison between the team and school,” Prager said.
Each season, team members pay $475, McCullough said. This money covers transportation, hotel rooms, competition fees and lift tickets.
“It’s a good deal for what you’re getting,” he said.
If it were not for the team’s fundraising efforts, members would have to pay more, he said. The annual “Big Chill 5K” run is one of their notable fundraisers.
The training camp offered each season is a separate fee of $495, which also covers everything essential during that week of training, McCullough said.
“It’s so fun, it doesn’t feel like training,” he said. “We’re there from the second it opens until the second it closes.”
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