As the snow begins to melt away, the memories of the 2023 Ski and Snowboard season certainly will not.
Fairfield University’s club Ski and Snowboard team posted a historic season, with their most recent and notable accolade being the Men’s Freestyle team finishing in third place in the U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard National Championship, which was hosted in Mammoth, Calif., from March 6 to March 11.
The podium-placed team was composed of students from different class years, and featured six skiers and one snowboarder, according to a news release on the official club sports website. Senior captain and skier Michael Streeter led the group comprised of skiers Collin Hicks ‘24, Matthew Thompson ‘25, Jack Ambery ‘25, Vincent Pirraglia ‘25, and Jake Kirsch ‘26. The lone snowboarder, Nolan Cooper ‘25, rounded out the roster in the national competition.
Their winning ways are nothing new for the team. According to Chelsey Wright, Fairfield University’s Assistant Director of Competitive Sports, “They took part in four regular season races in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and consistently finished top three for the men’s and women’s teams!”
Their preparations during the season, which saw them competing in events and races at Blue Mountain, Belleayre Mountain and Camelback Ski Resort, helped prepare the team for what would be an eventful – and snowy – national championship experience.
“The mountains in California got slammed with a lot of snow, which altered race days to ensure everyone was able to compete,” Wright explained.
“We showed up to a mountain with three feet of untouched snow and we camped out the lifts as they began to open,” Streeter shared. He continued by explaining that the team made the best of a bad situation by constructing jumps and ramps out of snow for members of the club to do all kinds of flips and tricks they wouldn’t normally be able to do.
Despite the setback, the team was able to nab the third place honors for the Men’s Freestyle event as a team, cementing this season as a historic finish for the Stags.
According to senior captain of the Women’s Alpine team Mary Foley, the women’s alpine team was able to take home fourth place honors, with the men’s alpine team coming in fifth on the season in their league.
Streeter acknowledged that although the team loves to see individuals place highly in their respective events, the thing that matters most at the end of the day is the success of the whole team. Compared to high school skiing or snowboarding, which is mostly individual, collegiate ski and snowboard is a team competition that relies on all members of the team to succeed.
Foley and Streeter both agree that the ability to make friends and other social connections are two of the most valuable parts of being members of the team.
When looking back at her season, Foley shared that “Overall, I loved spending time with members of our team and members from other teams in the conference. Ski racing is a small world, so many of our competitors were friends we have met prior to ski racing in college.”
“We hangout often outside of typical event skiing,” Streeter corroborated. “A big group of us go skiing every Wednesday as many of us don’t have class.”
Considering the social aspect, many new faces joined the team this year. Both Streeter and Foley shared that their respective squads grew with highly motivated and highly enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders that Foley says “positively contribute[s] to the whole team dynamic”.
The memories and experiences from this past season, to Foley and Streeter, will never fade.
“I feel like our abilities to work together to tackle challenges we have experienced as a student-run team have made us incredibly close and have created life-long memories,” Foley stated.