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It’s all downhill from here: a spotlight on the Brandeis Ski and Snowboard Team

The skies are getting darker sooner, and the weather is getting colder—you know what that means: Winter is almost upon us! Luckily, the Brandeis Ski and Snowboard Team is prepared for exactly that sort of thing. 

The Brandeis Ski and Snowboard Team is a club sport on campus. However, its members compete in a Division III league called the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) McBrine Division with colleges from all over New England.

The team’s mission statement, according to its captains, Merrick Mendenhall ’20, Hannah Muhlfelder ’20 and Tiff Lyman ’21, is to provide an environment for those who love skiing and snowboarding to come together and just have a fun time on the mountain. They wrote in an email to The Brandeis Hoot, “We work hard to provide an inclusive environment where it doesn’t matter whether you’ve raced before or not, but where people who love the mountain and snow can come together and be part of a team and community.”

Mendenhall has been on the team for three years but has been skiing “since before I could walk!” Mendenhall said that her parents used to carry her on the mountain on their backs. Mendenhall’s goal for the team the rest of the fall semester is to “get the word out about the team and welcome anyone who has experience skiing or snowboarding to join! We are always looking to grow the team and invite new people to ski and ride with us.”  

Mendenhall’s greatest accomplishment thus far on the team has been becoming a captain. She said that she has been a backcountry skier for many years and doesn’t have as much experience with racing but that being on the team has been one of her favorite experiences at Brandeis. “I’m so happy to have the opportunity to help the team adapt and grow with this new season… I’m looking forward to my third and final season!”

Muhlfelder has been a part of the team for four years but has been ski racing for eight seasons. One of Muhlfelder’s goals for the semester and the rest of the year is to “continue to offer a more versatile skiing experience on the team and give people opportunities to challenge themselves in our division’s freestyle events and perhaps some more recreational skiing.” Last year was Muhlfelder’s first time at the costume race—the last race of the season in the team’s division. “Alumni come back to visit and we all get dressed up to race—it’s a really fun and spirited event!” she wrote to The Hoot.

Lyman has been a member since coming to Brandeis but began ski racing around the age of eight years old. “I tried racing on a snowboard once at the end of freshman year, and decided to fully commit to both sophomore year,” he said. Now both skiing and snowboarding, Lyman said “my greatest accomplishment on the team is definitely when I placed third both on skis and on a snowboard” and hopes that in the coming season snowboarders will be provided with “a better understanding of snowboard slalom. We had one slalom race last year and the course baffled almost everyone.”

The captains mentioned that one of their favorite events of the year is their training trip—the team spends the week before the start of spring classes training together on Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, ME. (Fun fact: Sugarloaf has 1,240 skiable acres!) They said it is a great way for members to learn how the races run and to bond and get to know all the new members. Earlier this week, the team hosted a film screening donated by Faction Skis. For the rest of the fall semester, the team hopes to host even more bonding events for its members.
They offered some advice for students who may be interested in joining the team: “Make sure you can get down the mountain on your own in a wide variety of terrain. We often find skiers who are unfamiliar with hard snow and ice are prone to injury—and we want everyone who joins to be healthy, safe and happy on our team!” If you are interested in learning more about The Brandeis Ski and Snowboard Team, you can either email skiteam@brandeis.edu, subscribe to its listserv or follow the team’s page on Instagram for updates (@brandeiskiandboard).

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