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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Members of the Davis Alpine Ski and Snowboard team placed impressively at this year’s regional championships in Mammoth Lakes

The Davis Alpine Ski and Snowboard Club is looking forward to nationals this month

 

By FAITH DEMEULENAERE — features@theaggie.org

 

The Davis Alpine Ski and Snowboard (DASS) competition team’s recent performance at the regional championships is a shining example of how the power of hard work, perseverance and teamwork can bring home a win.

On Feb. 20 and 21 in Mammoth Lakes, California, DASS went head-to-head with other collegiate club teams in a slalom and giant slalom race, which consisted of sharp turns around obstacles down a steep hill. 

DASS placed first in men’s ski giant slalom, second in men’s ski slalom, second in women’s snowboard giant slalom, third in women’s ski giant slalom and slalom and took home almost every ranked place in rail jam, a timed run on a rail course judged by best overall and best trick.

After a successful first day at the race, the second day was full of high-speed winds. Lauren Bryant, a third-year human development major, snowboards for the DASS team and raced for her first time at regionals this year. Bryant said regionals were “stressful with a storm coming in.” However, the DASS team prevailed and brought home some high scores.

“Shredding” like this cannot be done without practice, but members of DASS all prepare differently for the races. Some try not to think about it too much, like Preston Longley, a fourth-year genetics and genomics major, who said his routine consists of “intensive sleep and a bagel.” 

Others, like Justin Wallasch, a fifth-year managerial economics major, have tight rituals.

“I have been racing for around 20 years, so I’ve definitely got a routine down,” Wallasch said. “It consists of a lot of boot skiing and leg swings to keep me warm and my muscles active when waiting before a race. I don’t like to overthink a course, so I try not to focus too much on the race before I go. I think it’s important to have a clear and good headspace.”

DASS Team Captain, Yaz Wadhwani, a fourth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, has been a member of DASS for four years. Though she sadly could not race due to medical reasons, she helped the UC Davis team prepare in every other way she could. 

“Skiing is my absolute favorite thing to do, and although I can no longer race, there’s nothing like being on the mountain to support my team,” Wadhwani said. “For them, I make sure I have a backpack with a fully-stocked medical kit, a radio down to base, a full water bottle and extra race bibs. At regionals this year, I had to give out my poles and gloves to my team when theirs got stolen. After the race, I’m the last down the mountain and carry all the jackets my team left behind when they ran the course.” 

Wadhwani said she thinks that the most important part of a race is that everyone is comfortable and has as much fun as possible.

DASS collectively expressed that they cheer each other on, even when the racing gets tough. Bailey Sokol, a second-year political science and economics double major, said she’s excited to go to nationals with her team and “will always help others try to improve their racing abilities and always cheer on [her] teammates while racing.”

Though teamwork and skill are essential to the DASS team, it is quite an expensive hobby due to all of the equipment and travel necessary to compete. Currently, the team is fundraising through GoFundMe to help send members to nationals.

The club’s success at the regional championships is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of these student-athletes. Through hard work, teamwork and love for the sport, they overcame the harsh weather and brought home high scores. 

But the team’s achievements extend beyond just the race course. For the DASS team, snow sports have the power to bring people together and foster personal growth. Members say that skiing and snowboarding are more than just hobbies; they are passions that they’re willing to work hard for and invest in. With nationals on the horizon, which will be held on Mammoth Mountain in California from March 6 to 11, the team is looking forward to representing UC Davis with pride. With the support of their fellow students and the wider community, they’re sure to achieve great heights.

Written By: Faith DeMeulenaere — features@theaggie.org