Over the course of the alpine skiing club’s nearly 70-year history, it has gone from club to varsity sport and back to club again. This season, both the men’s and the women’s teams are at the top of their leagues, with the men ranked first and the women tied for first with UMaine Farmington. Based on their standings, the Polar Bears are likely to qualify for regionals February 24 and 25.
Since 2012, the Polar Bears have competed in the USCSA (United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association) Reynolds division alongside other Maine schools like Bates, Colby, UMaine-Farmington and UMaine-Orono. Because the league is small, the team has gotten to know its competition well.
“It is a very fun community, because you are there every single weekend with these other schools and with the same people,” said captain Kyle Polson ’19. “It is not too big, and we work very closely with the people organizing the league.”
The team’s season schedule is quick and front heavy. The first race is before the spring semester begins and its last race is in the middle of February.
Currently, the team receives all of its funding from student activities. According to the SAFC Digest, the Alpine Ski Team has an annual budget of $15,820.55. These funds are used for races, transportation to and from practices and other financial needs the team may encounter throughout its season.
This year, the team’s usual coach is stepping back to spend time with her new baby. As a result, more of the coaching responsibilities have fallen to the teams’ more experienced racers.
“[Coach] comes to some of our practices, but it is a relaxed thing,” said captain Emma Landes ’19. “Those who have raced and have more experience are also taking on a semi coaching role as well by teaching the new folks how to race at practices.”
Captains say that the team continues to grow.
“There are over 80 people on the email list, but in terms of who comes to practices and races regularly, it is about 30–35 people registered,” said Polson. “We are in a very cool situation, because we are having a successful season, and we have people who have prior racing experience, but the majority of our team is still people who have never raced before college.”
The team practices twice a week after classes from 6-8 p.m. at Lost Valley Resort in Auburn, about 45 minutes away from campus. Captains usually go to the mountain early to set up the ski course.
“It is a really fun place to go. It is a small ski area and has a good setup for racing,” Polson said. “It is a good place for people who have grown up racing and [also] for those who have never done it to try it out for the first time.”
Skiing also provides a nice reprieve from typical college confines.
“It feels like a real breaking out of the Bowdoin bubble to go skiing a bunch of times a week and meet tons of cool people and Maine students. It’s a really nice group,” said Landes.