Club Ski Team slaloms alongside scholarship skiers in first quarter on the slopes


Photo courtesy of Andrew Lazarus

The Club Ski Team celebrates the culmination of its final event of the season. It competed in three two-day competitions this quarter.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

While the flat Evanston terrain doesn’t quite attract alpine sport enthusiasts, Northwestern skiers and snowboarders are shredding up a storm on the Club Ski Team.

McCormick junior and Club Ski Team co-President Aidan O’Neil founded the club during Winter Quarter 2022, and members hit the slopes together for the first time this quarter.

“I’ve been racing since I was in middle school, and I wanted to bring that (aspect) to Northwestern,” O’Neil said. “I really missed the adrenaline.”

The team groups skiers of various experience and skill levels in a tight-knit community, O’Neil said. Though members want to win competitions and showcase their speed on the slopes, he added that the club’s main goal is to create an inviting, inclusive atmosphere for winter sports enthusiasts.

McCormick junior and co-President Andrew Lazarus said the club provides a strong community for anyone who loves winter sports — including non-skiers.

“Our members include anyone from first-time skiers to lifelong ski racers, and even some snowboarders,” Lazarus said.

The Club Ski Team entered three different two-day competitions this quarter, with members competing in the slalom and giant slalom fields, in which skiers race through poles and gates.

They weren’t just racing against other club teams. The members faced recruited athletes from colleges around the Midwest, like University of Minnesota Duluth, who underwent extensive training regimes prior to competition.

“We’re a part of the U.S. Collegiate Skiing Association,” Weinberg junior and Communications Chair Olivia Harbison said. “Since Northwestern doesn’t have a ski team, we fill that spot. Most of the other teams have a lot of infrastructure and mountains they can practice on.”

While the team’s competitors pride themselves on practicing and preparation, according to Harbison, the club has yet to hold formal practices on the slopes. Instead, the skiers sometimes shoot some hoops in Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and have adopted a “learn as they go” mentality, Harbison said, honing their skiing skills when the lights shine brightest — in competition. 

Harbison said the group benefits overall from its varied skill levels, as those with more racing experience can assist rookie competitors.

“Aidan is one of our more experienced skiers, and he was always standing at the top of the mountain with someone who’d never raced before,” Harbison said. “Since we don’t have a coach, we really rely on our experienced racers to be like the captains and teach everyone how to race.”

Despite stiff competition, Harbison and O’Neil noted that nobody on the team ever placed last in an event, and many skiers earned top-50 finishes in fields of more than 100 racers.

O’Neil said he wants the club to grow in terms of size and skill and added that barriers to skiing at Northwestern could be slashed further. He said there will be more opportunities for the team to train and become more competitive next year.

“We hope to continue to develop as a ski race team but also make sure that skiing is more accessible to the student body,” O’Neil said. “So (we’re) doing everything in our power to bring more people to the mountain — bring people who have less experience so we can teach people how to ski and share the passion we have.”

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