The alpine ski team, in existence since 1996, is a club sport with a small yet loyal group of people who compete in a short burst of meets mid-winter. Their season, which consists of only five weekend-long races, runs from mid-January to mid-February. The team is comprised of approximately 30 members, alternating to go to the meets each weekend of their season.
Their schedule is intense, with three practices from 5 to 10 p.m each week, and races lasting from the early morning on Saturday to early evening Sunday.
“It is demanding to do it, but it is extremely rewarding,” said Liz Madore, president of the ski team.
The team leaves for one of four mountains early Saturday, competing in giant slalom Saturday and regular slalom Sunday. The team competes at Toggenburg Mountain, Swain, Greek Peak and Labrador Mountain.
Of the 30 members, 10 varsity and 5 junior varsity members attend each meet, where they compete against other varsity teams with approximately half the team going to each meet.
Over winter break, the team goes to Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont for a week of intensive training and team bonding, after which they begin the race season.
They compete against 13 other schools, including Alfred State, Cornell University, Syracuse University, Hobart and William Smith College, St. Bonaventure, Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Buffalo, among others.
Last week the top rated boys team member Sal Guarnieri placed seventh out of 45 for the meet, and Liz Madore, the second best rated girl placed 15th out of 39 girls.
The girls finished sixth overall out of 10, and the boys finished eighth out of 10, with the top girl finishing 24th out of 75 with a combined time of 105.9 for two runs. The top boy finished 11th out of 72 with a combined time of 85.56.
However, with the second best girl on the team and the second best boy both tearing their ACLs at the last meet, the team has been cut down for their last meet this weekend.
The team has gone from a more competitive reputation to a more relaxed one as well, losing many of their seniors over the past few years who were strong competitors.
“We’re competitive but we’re mainly focusing on having a good time,” member of the ski team senior Avital Levy said.
UR, however, is well-behaved compared to other teams who had less than stellar behavior records. Ithaca College and Binghamton University competitors were suspended from a ski meet for inappropriate behavior at the hotel room at one meet.
The team is SA funded, receiving money for giant slalom suits, but not much else. “We rent a van to go to our meets, and we get money for giant slalom suits but that’s about it,” Levy said.
They are also a member of the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, which sponsors each of the meets.
The group currently has no coach, and relies on coaches picked at each mountain for critique on their races. Gates are set up for practice at each peak, and coaches critique racers on their performances.
For next year, the team hopes to have a coach hired solely for the team, to not only improve the team’s performance but to add a personal element to the team as well. As of now, the team must deal with coaches at each of the mountains they practice at, with gates set up to assess performance.
“We’re hoping to increase the level of competition and training,” Madore said.
The team has yet to finish their season, with their next and final meet at Toggenburg this weekend.
Overall, the group feels it is a good experience, both in improving individual performance and becoming a close group. “It was really a great experience,” Levy said. “I would recommend it to anyone.”
Linden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.