Slashing through the snow

Michelle Fredrickson | Evergreen news editor

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Competition has come to a close for the WSU ski teams after the men’s team placed fourth at regionals late February, with the top three teams advancing to nationals.

“We ended up fourth just a little bit short, but it was a great showing for us,” said Kelsi Lakey, ski club president and senior computer engineering major. “It’s the best our team has done in a really long time, so we were all really happy about that.”

Western regionals were held at the WSU ski team’s home mountain, Brundage, in Idaho where 18 teams from six states competed in slalom and giant slalom.

The men and women’s teams consisted of seven athletes each. Each athlete skis the course twice. The top five scores count toward the score, and the top three comprise the team time. The final score is an accumulation of the slalom and giant slalom races. These races consist of two runs each.

The WSU men’s team averaged 50 seconds to a minute, Lakey said, with 50 gates in the slalom race.

“It was dry, cold and snowy, but we had some good courses,” said Coach Kemper Mirick, a senior natural resource sciences major. “Everyone had a blast.”

Although it placed fourth at regionals, the men’s team placed second in its conference and won the last two regular-season slalom races, Lakey said.

Now that the season has finished, the team will continue to work out together to stay in shape for next season. They also will hold elections for next year’s ski club, as three members of the leadership are graduating, including the president, the media manager, and the coach.

“Being an officer has definitely been a great experience, and it’s a good leadership learning experience for everyone involved,” Mirick said.

They plan to start looking for new members to keep the club alive immediately, Lakey said. They make a point to advertise in residence halls and have seen younger, motivated students join the team, she said.

Interested students can join the Facebook page or attend team workouts 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesdays in Smith 21.

“It’s pretty much like a big group of people who love to ski,” Mirick said.

Students interested in joining the team don’t need racing experience to get involved. The training camp held early in spring semester gives experience, and more experienced racers help people with less experience master the courses, media manager Joel Pittenger said. He had never raced before joining the ski club.

“It’s just been outstanding to see people taking their skiing to a whole new level and having a blast doing it,” Mirick said.

Lakey, who grew up racing, said seeing members improve their skiing is one of the most rewarding parts of her work on the team.

“I’ve seen people on the team over the last four years just improve tremendously,” she said. “I have a lot of fun teaching people how to race and watching them improve. We’re all pushing each other to be better skiers.”

In addition to being a competitive team, the ski club enjoys skiing together on unofficial trips after the race year ends.

“Just because the race season is over doesn’t mean we stop skiing,” Pittenger said.