Hitting the slopes

Snowcats gear up for a trip to the Rockies to start the new year

By Sara Tracy

While many students are using the winter break to hibernate after crunch-time study hours, the UK Snowcats will be hitting the slopes in Colorado.

The Snowcats, UK’s largest student organization with more than 300 students, will be traveling to Steamboat Springs, Colo., for its annual week of skiing and snowboarding.

“The club gives students the opportunity to experience a very relaxed environment different from the structured pressures of daily student life,” said Snowcats president Anthony Richie, one of about 240 members going on the trip.

On Jan. 1, the Snowcats will head to the slopes of the Rocky Mountains to take on the snow-capped ranges. The trip is always the week before the Spring semester of classes start.

In recent years, the Snowcats have traveled to Colorado resorts such as the ones in Telluride, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Aspen. The group has also gone to Jackson Hole, Wyo., and plans to return there for its Spring Break trip.

The cost for this year’s Winter Break trip is $500, which includes transportation, lodging at a resort in Steamboat Springs, lift tickets and social events. The price is well worth it, said Stuart Hellebusch, an art studio senior.

“It’s a great deal for the money,” said Hellebusch, who joined Snowcats three years ago. “These trips are what I like to do, and they’re fun.”

Richie, an agricultural communications senior and a veteran skiier, said he encourages people of all skill levels to join the Snowcats on the slopes.

“The trip is a way to discover how much fun skiing and snowboarding really are,” Richie said. “Many students are under the impression that you have to be a good skiier to ski out West, but it’s actually the opposite.”

All the resorts the Snowcats visit, including Steamboat Springs, have quality ski schools and feature a wide range of trails for beginner to advanced skiiers, Richie said.

“If a person has never skiied before, I would strongly recommend taking a lesson,” Richie said. “Most people take a half-day lesson and are able to ski comfortably after that. Once you’ve learned the basics, it’s kind of like learning to ride a bike — it just sticks.”

The Winter Break ski and snowboarding trip may be the biggest among many events for Snowcats members, but the members get more then just a trip to Colorado, Richie said.

Civil engineering sophomore Dale Bugay, who is in his second year as a Snowcats member, said his Snowcats membership has helped with discounts at different equipment stores. For the activities themselves, the Snowcats receive a discount on season passes from Perfect North Slopes in Indiana.

“We are just a big group of people who love to hang out and have fun,” Bugay said.

The Snowcats hold weekly meetings at 8 p.m, Wednesdays in Student Center Room 357. The club dues are $30 per year, which includes a Snowcats t-shirt.