Student-run ski team builds lifelong bonds

Vassar College Ski Team poses in costume at their latest race in Magic Mountain, Vermont. The team is entirely student-run, and veteran skiers train newcomers, all without the help of a coach. By: Marya Pasciuto
Vassar College Ski Team poses in costume at their latest race in Magic Mountain, Vermont. The team is entirely student-run, and veteran skiers train newcomers, all without the help of a coach. By:  Marya Pasciuto
Vassar College Ski Team poses in costume at their latest race in Magic Mountain, Vermont. The
team is entirely student-run, and veteran skiers train newcomers, all without the help of a coach. By: Marya Pasciuto

With winter varsity sports ending and a new season kicking of, Vassar College’s ski team continues to prosper as a completely student run organization. Although it is not officially recognized by Vassar Athletics, the ski team uses VSA funding to make it possible for members to travel to exhibitions, such as the recent Costume Race  in Vermont. A close knit group, the Vassar ski team focuses on building camaraderie as well as gaining experience on the slopes.

The ski team, or the VC Brewskis, as they call themselves, have no coaches or coordinators to help set up travel plans or expenses. This means that they have to rely on team members to book hotels, find tournaments to attend, and manage funds in order to stay active. The team is led by two captains, junior Anna Been and senior Carmen Angleton, who have been a part of the team for the entirety of their Vassar careers. A lack of a coaching staff requires students to teach the less experienced members the basics of skiing.

“We usually have a junior and a senior captain so we can learn the ropes and then teach it to someone new the next year,” noted Been in an emailed statement.

The Brewskis take advantage of the long winter here in the Northeast and get in as much skiing time as possible. “As a team we usually race anywhere from two to four weekends each winter,” explained Been. The team also spends a week during winter break in Sugarbush, a ski resort in Vermont. All Vassar students are allowed to attend this event.

This year 48 teams from the Mcbrine division, the skiing division that Vassar is a part of, attended the Sugarbush event, some of whom had never skied before. Wrote Been, “This trip really builds camaraderie, and is incredibly inclusive because you have all grades hanging out together. Some people sign up for Sugarbush as a group of friends, and some sign up alone and get put in a condo with a group of people that they later become friends with. Sugarbush is kind of our ‘practice’ before the racing season.”

One such member who attended Sugarbush was freshman Marya Pasciuto. Although Pasciuto has had skiing experience, she confessed her lack of competitive racing.

“I haven’t skied in 10 years,” explained Pasciuto. “I really wanted to be on ski team though so I joined and then brought my mom’s skis here to race.”

According to Pascuito, she has loved her time on the team so far. “I’ve always felt welcome on the team,” she remarked. “People who have never skied before are always welcome to join the team and race with us, which I think is really cool – the emphasis is on having a good time with the team more than it’s about winning all the races.”

The team also has a few traditions for incoming members, as explained by Pascuito. “All members of the ski team get a nickname from the current seniors/captains that they keep for the entirety of their time as VC Brewskis. The nicknames are usually pretty funny and never explained. All of the freshmen who went to Sugarbush got their nicknames there, but this weekend there were some new additions who received theirs on Saturday night.”

It was this past weekend that the Brewskis attended the annual Costume Race held up at Magic Mountain in Vermont.

“It’s an incredibly fun race that alumni are also allowed to participate in,” stated Been. “For the costume race we wear our costumes the second day and there are prizes for the best [costume]. Last year our theme was Monsters.”

The team made their way up the long road to Vermont early Friday morning on February 15. Using cars owned by students on the team, the Brewskis got up to the resort that evening and prepared for races the next morning.

“Racing on Saturday started at 9:30,” Pascuito explained. “We had two Slalom races for a total of four runs down the race trail. I’m going to guess that around 70 to 80 people raced from different schools, so it took a pretty long time to finish that day.”

After the big races on Saturday, the team rested up for the main event to be held on Sunday, as Pascuito described. “[That] morning, we were up and on the mountain early again, but we only had one race – this time Giant Slalom, which included a pretty scary jump. There were two runs of GS: the first was in the morning at 9:30, and the second was the costume race which took place at around noon.” With a team theme of “Magical Brewsteeze,” which describes the team’s Brewer pride, style and magic, costumes ranged from bananas to dinosaurs to giant teddy bears. “At the end of the costume race we packed up and headed back to Vassar,” noted Pascuito. “It felt pretty cool to end the season in a banana suit.”

Sophomore Sophie Wheelock described her experience at the costume race. “The costume race is hands down my favorite race of the season,” expressed Wheelock. “There’s nothing quite like ski racing down the mountain, wearing a onesie older than you, while the racer on the course next to you blasts Thrift Shop from the boom box balanced on their shoulders. There’s a collective camaraderie as you wait on the top of the course at the start gate.”

Rather than fighting for the glory of a win, the VC Brewskis truly just want to have a fun time and ski while simultaneously forming lifelong friendships. “I got involved with the team because a kid from my hometown was a part of it and he said it was one of the best decisions he’d made at Vassar, and I would have to agree,” expressed Been. “I’ve met some amazing people and get to do something I love at the same time!”

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