Winter divided: Those who ski and those who don’t

skiingfinal

ILLUSTRATION BY LIAM RADEMACHER

 

By Maeve Power & Jack Martin

“Oh you go to school in Vermont, you must ski all the time.” It’s a fair assumption to make. St. Michael’s is in prime skiing   territory with Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe, and Sugarbush all within a hour’s drive from campus. Just the mention of Vermont brings up images of skiers and boarders sliding down snowy slopes kicking up freshly fallen powder. However, there is a large population of Vermont residents that don’t carve the slopes and that includes many students who are often left to a seemingly deserted campus on weekend mornings. For many students at St. Michael’s, the 45 minute drive and $65 pass to Smuggler’s Notch Ski Resort is a huge incentive to choose the northern Vermont school. For others, it’s no incentive at all.

In a recent survey conducted by the Defender and taken by 142 students, 31 percent of the respondents said they did not ski or snowboard. Of those, one third cited a lack of experience, compared with the 24 percent who cited the high costs associated with the sports.
“You need a lot of capital to start,” said Amanda Schwartz ’17, a native Vermonter who doesn’t ski or board. “Renting stuff is so expensive. You spend a ton of money for one day and then you have nothing to show for it. If you want to go again, you have to spend the same amount of money.” The costs associated with winter sports, mainly that of skiing and snowboarding,
are notoriously high. At Smuggler’s  Notch, a day pass costs $72 for the average adult. At Stowe, it’s $108. These prices do not include renting equipment, gas to drive there or food from the lodge. “Anybody can play basketball: there’s the single cost of the basketball and then you find a public court,” said Vince Bolduc, PhD, a professor in the Sociology Department.

“That’s not like other sports like sailing or skiing. Learning [skiing] initially is not inexpensive, and it takes quite a few years of refinement. You need support for that – parents who are willing and able to take you to ski lessons and so forth…It’s famously expensive in a variety of ways.” Skier Aeddan Flaherty ’17 agrees that the price of entry when it comes to skiing can be an obstacle. “A lot of people  who have never skied before are put off by the cost. That’s often a huge factor in just getting gear at all.” At Smuggler’s Notch, renting gear for one day of skiing can cost upwards of $40. (See “Cost for Entire Season…”) Still, many students on campus came to St. Michael’s in part because of the college’s proximity to the mountains. “The fact that I was going to be close to all these ski mountains was a huge factor in my decision to come here,” said Mitch Yahna ’17, treasurer of Shred SMC, who added that the discounted Smuggs and Stowe passes ease costs. ”It’s still expensive but compared to their regular season pass price it’s a 6th.”This season, Yahna and the other leaders of Shred SMC sold over 100 season passes to Stowe mountain for the upcoming season. Discounted Stowe passes cost St. Michael’s students $375 and Smuggs costs students $65. “Most people get the Smuggs pass, so for Stowe to sell over 100 passes on campus is pretty impressive.” Many students find Stowe’s costs to be worth it due to the larger number of trails and quality of snow. Others prefer the smaller Smuggs mountain. “I really love the family orioriented, small-mountain vibe of Smuggler’s
Notch,” said Tricia Gerbis ’17, an avid snowboarder who can often be found ‘shredding’ forested trails. “When you get out there on the weekend you see so many St. Mike’s kids – new skiers and people who have been skiing for a long time.”

Large swaths of students, both American and international, however, come to St. Michael’s with no prior experience in either sport. “I tried to ski one time but I have no talent for it,” said Jiang Yiping, an international student from QingDao, China
who has been a student at St. Michael’s for the past year and a half. Yiping studies with University Abroad, a program that sponsors annual trips to Sugarbush for the Chinese students at St. Michael’s. “The activity is sponsored by this organization, so I didn’t have to pay, but for other international students, if they want to go to ski they have to pay for that, same as the
local American students,” Yiping said. “Some of them try to go ski but they have no way of getting there. The bus leaves at 6 or 7 am, which is really early.” Transportation poses a serious obstacle to those wishing to ski or snowboard, along with time and financial constraints. “My first year at Saint Mike’s, I bought the Smuggs pass and I never went,” said Eliza McDonald ’17. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, but every Saturday I had something to do. The whole semester passed and I had never skied.”
“It’s just a time thing,” said Jillian Kenny ’18, a native Vermonter who has managed to keep away from the snowy trails her whole life. “I was raised in a house of non-skiers and non-snowboarders and we just never really had time.”

Whether you’re hitting the slopes or not, McDonald said she thinks the student body is pretty balanced. “It’s a good
mix of people that ski on the weekends sometimes, or people that don’t ski, or people that literally base their class schedule around whether they’re going to ski or not.” St. Michael’s ski and snowboard culture is seemingly woven into the mountainous landscape of Vt, though it is inaccessible for many due to things like high costs, lack of transportation, and
the time it takes to learn. But for now, the divide seems to create little hostility. “It’s great if you’re a skier, it’s also
alright if you’re not,” said Kenny. “Skiers and snowboarders are usually pretty chill people, so I think that contributes a lot
to the ‘cool’ atmosphere of the campus – pardon the pun.”

 

COST FOR ENTIRE SEASON
AT SMUGGLER’S NOTCH:

Smuggler’s Notch Season
Pass for SMC Students:
$65
+
Full Season Equipment
Rentals at the Alpine Shop:
$300*
=
$365
(Not including transportation)
*Approximate number. Price may vary slightly.

Smuggler’s Notch Day
Pass: $72

+
Ski or Snowboard
Rental at Smuggs:

$43/day

=

$115
(Not including transportation)

COST FOR ONE DAY AT
SMUGGLER’S THROUGH ADVENTURE
SPORTS CENTER:
$20 for a full day lift ticket
+
$20 for group lesson

+
+$20 for full day rentals
=
$60
(Including transportation)