Ski and snowboard club plays in the snow

Pamela Crimbchin

Kent State’s “Flash” rides the chair lift with a teammate at Snowtrails yesterday. Brian Marks | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

As the Midwest Collegiate Ski Conference Ohio Division Championships ends and all skiers and snowboarders exit the hill, silence takes over the crowd. A tremendous cloud of snow takes over the trails, blocking any onlooker’s view. From the white abyss, Kent State’s mascot, Flash, appears on a snowboard to cheers and high-fives from the crowd below.

The Ski and Snowboarding team competed Saturday and Sunday at Snow Trails Ski Resort in Mansfield for the Division Championships. Kent State earned second place overall in the women’s division and fourth in the men’s division.

“As far as there being two other schools here and them being nationally ranked and we are the only ones here with a mascot? What does that say, you know?” senior Coleman Caster said.

Sunday’s white-out from snow on the slope didn’t stop biology major Brandy Plazzo from taking first place in the women’s snowboard slalom. Plazzo also earned third on Saturday in the women’s snowboard slalom. Plazzo has been snowboarding since seventh grade and encourages everyone to try it.

“Do it,” Plazzo said. “Sign up. It’s sweet. It’s fun.”

On the men’s side, Caster earned fourth place in the men’s snowboard slalom, missing third place by less than one second. Chris Wilkin placed fifth, less than 75 milliseconds behind Caster.

At the end of Sunday’s competition, captain Jason Popik took part in the senior run. Senior skiers and snowboarders from all present universities dress up, or dress down, into costumes for their very last run. Popik’s outfit of choice during the winter weather advisory, was a water skier, complete with towrope and life jacket.

“I’m going to miss it,” Popik said. “[It’s been] a vast part of my life. I’ve done it every winter for the past four years.”

The ski and snowboarding team is made up of eleven snow enthusiasts.

Each member of the team competes in two races a day down slippery ice-covered slopes. The goal is to get the best time overall and to stay on course, a task that proved very difficult with the 30 mph winds blowing across the slope.

“The wind was ridiculous,” said Liz Michalos, sophomore pre-med major. “It actually ended up knocking me over. I went to lean and the wind came and I fell over.”

When the team is not tearing it up on the slope, they are hanging out in the warm lodge. They laugh, joke and eat brownies around piles of gloves, sweatshirts and goggles. The members said they think of the team more as a social club than a competitive one.

Contact sports reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].