During the week of March 5, the Brandeis Ski and Snowboard Team will compete at USCSA (United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association) Nationals at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, NY.
The Ski and Snowboard Team races the first five weekends during second semester of every year. The team competes in the alpine slalom and giant slalom events in the McBrine Division of the USCSA’s Eastern Conference. The skiing team finished their races for the academic year during the weekend of Feb. 10 and skipped regionals, which fell during the most recent school recess. Although the skiers have finished for the season, the team’s last events of the year will be Nationals, where three snowboarders will be competing. The snowboarding team typically qualifies for Nationals, but since every other year Nationals are held on the west coast, attendance for the team is quite difficult.
Overall, the Ski and Snowboard Team fared well this season. The men’s skiing team placed third overall in the McBrine Division and took home a trophy for Brandeis. This year’s Men’s team consists of captain Zach Phil Schwartz ’18, Tiff Lyman ’21, Addison Pitha ’20, Oliver Koch ’20, Quinn Rickert ’19, Abhishek Kulkarni ’18 and Jasper Rodgers ’21. The women’s ski team finished fifth overall in their division, with Sonja Unica ’18 finishing as the top ranked female skier for Brandeis, in 11th place overall.
As for snowboarding, there is no gender differentiation. Snowboarder and captain Sophie Grutzner ’18 finished the regular season in first place overall for snowboarding in the McBrine Division. Grutzner will be competing at Nationals during the week of March 5. Riely Allen ’18 and Olivia Kalsner-Kershen ’19 will also be competing at Nationals alongside fellow snowboarder Grutzner. The trio will compete for the best time in boarder-cross, slalom and giant slalom. While slalom and giant slalom involve movement around gates, the boardercross event includes jumps, berms and rollers.
Grutzner is favored by the judges in the National competition, however, her priority is to have fun and represent her team well. She commented on the opportunity to compete, “For me, after qualifying for three years, getting to go is a super exciting and largely due to the team’s enthusiasm and willingness to chip in with volunteering as gatekeepers, driving the 6 hours to Lake Placid, and a special effort from my invaluable co-Captain Zach Schwartz. I am looking forward to competing against people from all across the country and measuring up against the new competition … This will also be my final collegiate race as a part of the Brandeis ski and snowboard team so although I will be sad to leave them it is a great note to go out on.”
Both Co-Captains commented on the team going to Nationals, and not only what it means for the athletes, but the future of the club at Brandeis.
Grutzner exhibited pride in all the hard work her team contributed this season, “For the club, I hope that this means we will get the support we need from club sports to be able to compete again. Almost all of the money being spent on fees, housing, transportation, ect. is coming out of a now very depleted fundraising budget. It is also the culmination of a lot of hard work on the part of the entire team especially the snowboarders who have competed on skier courses and awful conditions all season in order to qualify.”
Schwartz also commented in the team going to nationals, “Obviously the goal is for our snowboarders to do as well as they can. We have a great team this year and I’m really excited to see how they do. Many of us will also be there volunteering at the event and cheering them on.”
Commenting on the season, he explained, “I feel like the biggest thing from this year was a rejuvenation of the team. It is full of new first year and sophomore skiers and snowboarders and that really is a great thing for keeping it going in the future.”
Schwartz also mentioned his belief in the bright future of the team as a graduating senior and his hope for the team’s continuing growth stating, “As a senior I hope to see the club keep expanding and continue to do well. Personally I think the team’s accomplishments go very much under the radar and continuing to do well will get us noticed.”
Zach Phil Schwartz is a former editor for The Brandeis Hoot.