Students Explain What Makes SLU a Top-Ranked School for Skiing
By Chloe Mitchell ’21
“An average Monday morning consists of a 5:20 a.m. wake up, a quick granola bar for the road and a 6 a.m. departure from campus to Whiteface Mountain, usually in sub-zero temperatures.”
That’s a sample of winter life for Jake Van Deursen ’19, St. Lawrence University Alpine ski team captain, and his teammates during the ski season. Van Deursen, an environmental studies and economics double major from Bartlett, New Hampshire, is just one of the many St. Lawrence winter enthusiasts who chose this University specifically for its snowy Northern New York location and its proximity to the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid and Whiteface, a two-time host of the Winter Olympics.
It’s also what helps make St. Lawrence the sixth best school in the nation for skiing and snowboarding out of the 25 colleges and universities ranked by College Consensus. The ranking publisher selected colleges known for ski programs that integrate not only the responsibilities of a student but also the ability to participate in Alpine skiing at the collegiate level.
Riley Whitney ’20, co-captain of the Alpine woman’s team, spoke about the efficiency one must have as a student athlete to compete at such a high level and have the motivation to handle a strict workload. “The ski program at St. Lawrence has been refined to the point to where, over the years, a routine has developed that helps athletes utilize on-campus resources (academic and athletic) and translate them to balancing skiing with extracurriculars, therefore, enriching athletes’ lives for a more holistically balanced approach to skiing.”
Alexandra (Ali) Price ’19, a government and business in the liberal arts double major from Oakville, Ontario, and co-captain of the Alpine women’s team, said: “We have the rare opportunity to compete at the highest level of collegiate skiing in North America while receiving a quality education and exposure to one of the nation’s best alumni networks.”
Skiing at St. Lawrence, however, isn’t just for collegiate athletes. The non-competitive skiers also get to enjoy on the weekends the challenging slopes and fun terrain parks. The College Consensus review stated, “St. Lawrence students are encouraged to embrace winter, through a variety of winter fitness and wellness activities.”
Charlotte Childs ’22, an undeclared major from New Canaan, Connecticut, says, “Taking advantage of the three mountains near SLU has not only made my experience here better, it also has been made easy and comfortable through the Outing Club, which always makes sure we get the most out of the cold season. Half of the fun of going skiing on the weekend is getting a large group together and making it a road trip across the North Country in search of some slippery and powdery slopes.”
Julia Bronson ’21, an environmental studies major from Monterey, Massachusetts, agreed. “It’s really nice to get a break from the stress of campus and do something I love,” she said. “With easy access to discounted season passes for all three mountains and rides to the mountain (all made possible through the Outing Club), skiing is a perfect weekend excursion.”
Whitney, a geology major and outdoor studies minor from Lake Mills, Wisconsin, stated what she believes are the advantages to choosing St. Lawrence for skiing: “Potential athletes see St. Lawrence as a place where they can receive an amazing liberal arts education and also continue to pursue skiing very seriously.”
Both the Alpine and Nordic ski teams compete in the NCAA’s Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association (EISA). Van Deursen and junior Carter Armstrong ’20 of Toronto will compete in the NCAA Skiing Championships this year at Stowe, Vermont. Head Coach Willi Steinrotter was also named Alpine Coach of the Year. Jacquelyn Garso ’20 of Lake Clear, New York, who finished 21st overall in Nordic skiing, will compete in the 2019 NCAA Skiing Championships at Stowe.
Above its location, training facilities and long-running program, Whitney said it’s the team spirit and support on and off the mountain that truly makes the ski program what it has come to be. “We always wait at the bottom until the last member of our team comes down from their race run,” she said. “We cook together, we tune our skis together, we workout, and just generally spend time getting to know and opening up to each other.”
St. Lawrence student skiers of all levels of experience welcome the blustery snow squalls and below-freezing mornings that are a staple of North Country winters, and which are key to enjoying the adjacent slopes and terrains near campus.
“It’s both an honor and also an awakening to hear of this recognition,” Van Deursen said after hearing this ranking. “With the strength of St. Lawrence’s athletic alumni connection and student body, combined with athletic and academic benefits, there is no reason we cannot make SLU the top ski school in the nation.”