Alpine Ski Teams Set Mountainous Expectations for Winter Season

Alpine Ski Teams Set Mountainous Expectations for Winter Season

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/.

Titcomb Challenge: UMF Business Class And Outing Club Team Up To Create New Community Event

Titcomb Challenge: UMF Business Class And Outing Club Team Up To Create New Community Event

By Autumn St. Pierre, Contributing Writer 

Community members gather for the first annual Titcomb Challenge event. (Photo by Clyde Mitchell)

Community members gather for the first annual Titcomb Challenge event. (Photo by Clyde Mitchell)

In collaboration with the Farmington Outing Club (FOC), students of professor Clyde Mitchell’s Alpine Operations Leadership and Management class organized and carried-out the first Titcomb Challenge; a day-long community event hosted at the popular local ski-hill, Titcomb Mountain. Held over February break, the event attracted mostly community members, and the organizers of the Challenge are already evaluating both its success and room for improvement in future seasons.  

The Titcomb Challenge originated from a project assigned to Mitchell’s class. The students had to think of an event that they wanted to create and organize in conjunction with the FOC.

Mitchell explained that the Challenge was comprised of eight different events throughout the day. According to Mitchell, the project provided good “practice for students to gain event planning and to serve the community at the same time,” he explained.

Awards were held at 8 p.m. where participants were given prizes including a $1 raffle, give-aways, skiing apparel, donated lift tickets from Sunday River, and donated t-shirts from Sugarloaf. “Any surplus goes to Titcomb, this year it will just go to prizes,” said Mitchell.

Because this was the first year the Titcomb Challenge was held, it was new to the public as well as the people organizing it. “We weren’t really sure what to expect because it was our first season ever trying something like this,” said Maria Noyola, a member of the class and FOC.

The challenge lasted from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Students who planned it were tasked with different jobs such as working the registration table, supervising events, and overall coordination and making things run smoothly. “We were definitely aiming towards the fun aspect versus the competitive aspect,” said Connor Dunn, a member of the class. “More music, fun events, etc.”

The recent snow days created a delay in communication and planning. “We’ll market it a bit better next year,” said Mitchell.

“I would start the planning months in advance to allow more room for fundraising, organizing, and marketing, getting the word out more and notifying people ahead of time so we can preregister for events,” said Noyola. “I think something like this has a lot of potential at a place like Titcomb to involve the kids and the community.”

Having the event over winter break caused an absence of UMF students. “I think having it over February break was good and bad. If it was during school I think we would have had more students,” said Dunn.

Though not many college students made an appearance, the timing of the event made it possible for school-age participants. “We were thinking about getting more younger kids,” said Dunn.

“I think we should stick with break and give the families something to look forward to in the town,” said Noyola.

The Titcomb Challenge is a convenient experience for people. “I think this is a great event because it will give kids the opportunity to participate in small and playful events with their peers while being challenged with their skill of riding,” said Noyola. “It has a variety of different ways to challenge the kids in a very laid back and fun environment.”