By Abby Pomerleau, Contributing Writer
Left to Right: Simon Kern, Ryan Townsend and Sam
Scheff skiing and snowboarding at Sugarloaf Mountain.
Photo submitted by Abby Pomerleau.
The UMF Freeride team is making the most out of their season with weekly practices and optional competitions. The United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) competitions are not being held this year, but the Freeride team is still enjoying the opportunity to ski. “Everyone on the team is still giving it their all and is continuing to push themselves because with or without competitions everyone just loves the sport in general,” said Bridget Stephenson, a sophomore who skis on the Freeride team.
Although there are no USCSA competitions, there are a few small competitions available to anyone and require a payment of $120. Some members of the team are planning on participating. “I’m really glad we have this opportunity to compete,” said Ryan Townsend, a junior who also skis on the Freeride team. “It gives us the ability to use the new skills we have been working on in a competitive setting.”
The Freeride team practices at Titcomb Mountain on Thursdays and Sugarloaf on Saturdays. The team also visits the Anti-Gravity Complex (AGC) next to Sugarloaf once a week to use their trampolines. This allows the team to work on new tricks before they try them on the slopes.
Being on a ski team provides the members with a COVID-safe social experience. “I really like to be around people with similar interests as I do,” said Townsend. “Everyone is really cool and very supportive.” By being on the Freeride team, it allows for its members to do what they love while meeting new people.
Regardless of the lack of regular competitions, ski season looks relatively normal to the Freeride team. “Everyone still gets to go skiing together and supports each other to try new things,” said Stephenson. “Everyone on the team is there to do what they love, so even if there wasn’t a team we would all be out there anyway. The lack of competition doesn’t stop us.”
Skiing isn’t just about the competitions for some of the team members. “Skiing has fully shaped my experience here at UMF,” said Townsend. “For me, being outdoors is a major part of my life and skiing contributes to that. Although we can’t regularly compete, skiing on this team is important to me and how I spend my time here at UMF.”
Like Townsend, many UMF students enjoy skiing as a hobby. Titcomb Mountain is roughly 5 minutes from campus, while Sugarloaf is roughly 55 minutes from campus. Having these mountains relatively close to UMF allows students to have the ability to ski when they please.
The Freeride team loves when newcomers join the team. “Everyone on the team is so welcoming and there are people on the team from all ski levels,” said Stephenson. “We have people who are completely new to park skiing and snowboarding, and people on the team who are nationally ranked, so there are plenty of people to seek advice from.”
To join the Freeride team, email the Snow Sports Director, Scott Hoisington, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How a generous donation is helping students find new appreciation for the local ski mountain.
By Faith Rouillard, Contributing Writer
As the air gets colder and snow begins to fall, one Farmington location prepares for the winter season. Winter is nearing and Titcomb Mountain will soon be the heart of the town, the staff and all the volunteers’ hard work will begin to pay off. The mountain sits just two miles away from the university; a seven-minute drive. Throughout the years, the mountain has become a necessary asset to UMF.
Titcomb Mountain is fit to serve all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from beginners to experts. The mountain has well-kept cross country trails and a terrain park. Titcomb was established in 1939 and is more alive and well than ever before. Night skiing is offered on select evenings throughout the season.
Thanks to a generous donation, full-time students at UMF receive free season passes to Titcomb. “When you pair the free season pass with MO (Mainely Outdoors) rentals, and free learn to ski lessons taught through the Alpine Operations Certificate Program, it really makes skiing accessible to all students here at the university,” says senior and class president, Isaac Seigle.
“It’s impossible for Titcomb to go a day without the mountain being used by someone who is also a student at the university,” said Seigle. The mountain has a deep-seated integration with the university.
Seigle explained how Titcomb means more to him than just skiing. “Titcomb [has been] a part of my life since I was eight is what made me want to go to UMF for ORBA (Outdoor Recreation Business Administration),” he said. “I loved skiing, and I loved Titcomb, and getting an education that would help me do work addressing awareness of the barriers to equity in outdoor recreation was really important to me. Without organizations like Titcomb, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make skiing such a part of my life.”
For the students in the ORBA program at UMF, Titcomb has been a great outlet to show off what the students have learned. “For me, this is a great opportunity to have a management position at a mountain as a student. It will help me later in life,” says Sam Scheff, an ORBA major and the terrain park manager at Titcomb.
Both Scheff and Seigle started working at Titcomb through internships at UMF as requirements for their majors. “Titcomb sees a lot of students wanting to do their internship at the mountain. Once it came time for my internship, it just made sense to me to do it at Titcomb and give back to the mountain that gave me so much throughout my life,” said Seigle. “Being a smaller organization, an internship at Titcomb is also a great first chance for students to stand up and be in a position to take on more responsibility within an organization that is resource strained.”
“The atmosphere is one of the best things about Titcomb. It is so family-friendly and accepting,” said Scheff.
This small mountain operates with the slogan, “The friendliest mountain around.” That goal is embodied by all. “Titcomb is oriented around being a really friendly place that can feel like home,” said Seigle.
This mountain is an incredible resource to the community and our school. “Most know that the mountain is run by mostly volunteers, so it takes a whole community to get it up and running,” said Scheff. “Stop by and come see Titcomb. Come see what we’re all about.”
Tyler Stinson Contributing Writer
There are many ways people can enjoy the cold weather, by ice fishing, snowshoeing, or even staying inside bundled up next to the heater, but shooting down a mountain with a board or a pair of skis on your feet is a considerably more fun activity to many people in the Farmington area. Farmington has always had a huge skiing presence, and winter sports are beloved here, both in town, and at UMF.
As students at UMF, there are a plethora of opportunities to get involved in this exciting winter sport, but even so, a majority of the UMF population has no idea about it. The first benefit students have is the local mountain, Titcomb. This mountain is incredibly close by, about five minutes out of town, and students only need to show their student ID to get a free pass for the season. With this pass, they can come and go as frequently as they want. Another great opportunity that students can take advantage of, is the lessons and rentals through the Mainely Outdoors building located near the Fitness and Recreation Center. This allows students to start skiing at Titcomb even if they’ve never invested the money to purchase their own pair of skis.
Those who are aware of these benefits for students love that the university is as involved as it is, however, with more exposure, and a better knowledge of the opportunities that are provided, the relationship between skiing and the Farmington community can only continue to grow.
Passionate and practiced instructors work 4 to 5 days a week teaching kids, college students and even adults how to ski over at Titcomb. These instructors have been skiing for years, and want to pass their love and knowledge of the sport down to students, so as to keep the popularity of it alive. One of these instructors states, “We’ve all spent the majority of our lives skiing. It’s something we are all extremely passionate about, and we wish more kids took advantage of the opportunities through the university.”
A UMF student, who had managed to figure out about the free season pass and the rentals through the school added, “I had always been interested in skiing, and I found out that [at UMF] it costs me nothing, or next to nothing. I also don’t have to attend a gym class, because it can be used as a PHE credit.” Another student talked about how they just wanted to learn to ski because their older siblings did it, and though they never got into it when they were younger, once they realized how easy to access it was in this area, they decided to give it a try. They found the relevant information through UMF’s Mainely Outdoors and took full advantage.
If you also think you would love to be skiing down a mountain, or just love to be outside and try new things, Farmington is one of the best places you can be. Skiing is something that can be super fun for everyone, and if you are a UMF student looking to be involved in this wonderful winter activity, check out your options on campus for learning how and where you can ski for free. You won’t regret it.
By Evan Gorr Contributing Writer
The UMF snowsports team is joining forces with Titcomb Mountain to host their 3rd annual mountain bike race and trail run on October 21st. The proceeds will benefit both the Snowsports team and Titcomb Mountain.
The event will be held at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, with the 1K and 5k trail runs starting at 9:30 a.m. These will be followed by the kids mountain bike race at 10:30 a.m., and the rest of the bike racers will leave at 11:30 a.m. The cost of registration varies from $10 – $50 depending on the race you choose.
Jedediah Stevens, an alpine ski racer and member of the Snowsports team, is glad to volunteer at the event. “I think it’s an excellent fundraiser for us, it lets us give back to the community and put on a fun event,” Stevens said.
According to Stevens, last year there were around 40 participants who raised $1500 dollars. Stevens wants to see greater participation this year, and notes that you don’t have to be competitive to participate. “This event is as competitive or relaxed as you want it to be,” said Stevens.
Anyone can register for either the trail run or the bike race, and there are different distances and categories depending on your age and ability.
Scott Hoisington, the director of Snowsports at UMF, speaks highly of the event, and enjoys this type of fundraiser. “This is a great event that puts you outside in the foliage in an athletic environment,” Hoisington said. “We do it to support Titcomb and it also matches our style of athletic adventure.”
Hoisington notes that there are incentives to participate in the event. “The first 60 registrants will get a free tee shirt,” Hoisington said, “and we have a few sponsors that will be handing out some prizes.”
Seth Noonkester, the General Manager of Titcomb, is excited for the event, and is happy to support a fundraiser that benefits the Snowsports team, as well as the mountain. “To me, September and October are the best times to ride in our area,” Noonkester said. “The temperatures are a little cooler and the foliage is peaking.”
Noonkester wants more UMF students to experience Titcomb this fall and winter. “I welcome all UMF students to come check us out,” Noonkester said. “I guarantee after your first visit that you’ll fall in love with the place.”
The trails at Titcomb are starting to become more well known across the state, and Noonkester believes that there is a reason for this. “Titcomb mountain is the best because of the people and community that utilize it and bring the place to life!” The event is put together by the community surrounding Titcomb, but it attracts people from all parts of the Maine.
Noonkester notes that UMF students are eligible for a free ski pass, and there are many events planned throughout the winter. There are also incentives for runners to check out the mountain. UMF Alumni and Salomon shoe rep, Bill Asbell, will be there with trail running footwear for people to demo.
By Devin Lachappelle – Contributing Writer
Although the Farmington area has yet to see significant snowfall, members of UMF’s Alpine Ski teams are already hitting the slopes and training hard as they look to get a strong start to the season. They hope to eventually make a run for the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships in March.
Jed Stevens, a Junior and a captain of the men’s team, is cautiously optimistic about this season. Stevens expects that both the men’s and women’s teams will put up strong performances despite a lack of upperclassmen racers.
Ben Higgins takes a practice run down Chicken Pitch, a steep section of trail at Sugarloaf Mountain
Credit: Ben Higgins
“We have a very young ski team this year,” Stevens said. “Luckily for me, the majority of our team has an ample amount of experience in racing. My expectations for the team this year are high, but skiing is a tough sport, so we take on our season by going one race at a time.”
Jess Freeborn, a sophomore and a captain of the women’s team, agreed with Stevens, and noted that she appreciated her teammates’ energy. “The women’s Alpine team is a young but vibrant team,” she said. “The team [is] extremely excited and eager to hit the snow.”
Although her teammates have shown incredible enthusiasm about this alpine ski season, Freeborn said that she still likes to keep a careful eye on her fellow racers to make sure no one gets overwhelmed.
“I help make sure everyone’s attending practices and in a good place emotionally and academically,” she said. “I have been called the team mom more than a few times!“
Ben Higgins, a recent transfer student from Currie College and a new addition to the men’s Alpine Ski team, was a bit more outspoken about his goals than Stevens and Freeborn were. “We’ve had nationals on our Google Calendar all year,” Higgins said, in reference to the USCSA Championships, which are held in New York at the end of the ski season.
While the Alpine Ski teams don’t have official home racing venues, Stevens mentioned that he and his teammates train often at Titcomb Mountain, a small ski mountain located two miles from the school’s campus.
“UMF and its snow sports teams have an excellent relationship with Titcomb Mountain,” Stevens said. “In my own personal opinion, Titcomb has one of the best trails for slalom races in the state of Maine.”
Stevens also noted that Titcomb is particularly accommodating to UMF students, both for those looking to watch races and those looking to ski. “[Titcomb is] only ten minutes away and provides free skiing to all UMF students, [so] if you want to come watch us compete, this is the venue to do it,” he said.
Stevens and Higgins mentioned that although it isn’t as close to campus as is Titcomb, Sugarloaf Mountain is a fantastic place to practice, given its substantial size and the difficulty of its trails.
“Sugarloaf provides us with an opportunity to train on a large mountain with challenging terrain, which gives us a major edge in races held on difficult slopes,” Stevens said. “Once the season gets into full swing, this is our preferred training space for giant slalom [races].”
Higgins agreed and said, “I would consider Sugarloaf to be part of our extended community here at UMF.” With laughter in his voice, Higgins continued, “It’s not too far away; if you give it a little bit of a lead foot you can get there pretty quickly.”
The full schedules for the men’s and women’s alpine ski teams can be found at http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/malpineski/2017-18/schedule and http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/walpineski/2017-18/roster, respectively.
Any UMF student interested in getting a free season pass to Titcomb Mountain should visit http://www.titcombmountain.com/.