UC Davis Alpine Ski and Snowboard Team reflects on 2020 season

UC Davis Alpine Ski and Snowboard Team reflects on 2020 season

Photo Credits: UC Davis Alpine Ski and Snowboard Club / Courtesy. A member of the UC Davis Alpine Ski and Snowboard (DASS) Club prepares to hit a gate while slalom skiing.

 Powerhouse club ends season with nationals in New York

Each year, the UC Davis Alpine Ski and Snowboard team (DASS) rents a cabin in Lake Tahoe, California for five months of the year. The cabin serves as a touch point for team members to come up to, rest at and connect with each other. This year’s season, which ran from Week 1 of Winter Quarter through Week 5, ended at the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships. This year, the team sent its women’s team up to compete at Lake Placid, New York. 

The team is composed of about 50 team members who compete in both ski and snowboard events at varying skill levels. Some of the team members are competitive skiers, who started skiing on contract in high school, but others on the team have had little to no experience prior to joining the team. Despite this range in competitive background, members are all able to come together to help each other improve. 

For Aidan Callahan, DASS’ club president and a fourth-year electrical engineering major, having team members who were skiing at very high levels helped him make the transition from snowboarding to skiing much smoother. 

Callahan, who grew up in San Francisco, started snowboarding as a child with his parents, avid skiers themselves. Before coming to Davis, he went to Tahoe for one or two weekends a season, but he wasn’t able to come up as often as he would have liked. So, upon entering UC Davis, he decided to join the team as a snowboarder as soon as he arrived on campus. After competing as a snowboarder his freshman and sophomore year, he decided to switch to skiing last year. 

“I just was more interested in competing as a skier,” Callahan said. “Our league is a little bit skier-biased in that there’s a lot more skiers racing and a lot more snowboarders doing slopestyle stuff. But generally, more skiers are competing as racers than snowboarders competing as freestyle athletes.”

During his transition to skiing, he found that the frequent practices at the club’s cabin, as well as being able to ski with other students who are highly competitive, helped him improve his skiing abilities drastically. 

Team members for DASS head up to the cabin almost every weekend of the five-month ski season during which they rent the cabin. Each weekend, roughly 15-20 people make the drive up to ski at the Boreal Mountain Resort in Tahoe. In previous years, the team skied at the Sugar Bowl resort, but due to an increase in season pass prices, the team made the switch to skiing at Boreal. Season passes for the resort cost around $400, which, in addition to the team dues of $500, almost entirely subsidizes the cost for the cabin rent, race tickets, training and flight tickets for the women’s team to go to nationals.

On the slopes, current team members often run into alumni, who stop to comment on the UC Davis team gear and to share stories about their time on the team. The team as a whole is still very connected to their alumni, often reaching out through email to share milestones, such as the team’s 50th anniversary last year. 

As students, members of DASS have to strike a balance between schoolwork and practice. Most team members, like second-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major Milena Torres Londono, try to finish their work during the week so that they can devote their weekends to practice. 

Like Callahan, Torres Londono also began her ski journey with family. She began skiing with her dad as a four-year-old, and has gone skiing regularly every year since. When she toured UC Davis as a high school senior and saw the club tabling at the MU, she was immediately interested in joining. After speaking with the team members tabling and asking about their experiences, she decided to get involved with the club. She has so far loved her experience with the team. 

“It’s super welcoming, Torres Londono said. “And I like that there’s no skill level that you have to have to join the team, even if you’re barely starting out your welcome, because all the team is really about is just people who like to bond over the sport. We all just share that passion.”

DASS team members competed on March 10-14 in Lake Placid, New York for the USCSA nationals. The club sent its women’s team to compete at Lake Placid, which placed 16th out of 19 teams in the Alpine Women’s category. Third-year managerial economics major Haley Louis placed 15th out of 92 in the combined individual competition and 2nd in Skier Cross event.

Written by: Priya Reddy — sports@theaggie.org