Proving there's no business like snow business, a group of students took advantage of Winter Term to bond with the high-velocity and quality-frostbite sports that freezing cold and lots of snow allow. While some enjoyed skiing and snowboarding, others chose snowshoeing and even dogsledding as their ritual tributes to the gods of the Winter Wonderland.
Men's Soccer and Tennis Coach Chris Barker took a group of 14 students to Stowe, Vermont for four days of ski and snowboard mayhem. Under the pounding onslaught of continual rain, the group got in some great rides before retiring to evenings filled with cooking, cleaning and many leisurely board and card games in their Scandinavia Inn chalet.
"It was pretty cool," Chris Barker said. "We cooked together and played Trivial Pursuit and Ping-pong."
"It was a fun group," first-year Bea Chatfield said. Chatfield was able to get a free three hour snowboard demo on her fourth day as part of her ski package.
"I had done it once before but could make it down the slopes this time," she said. "My ass hurt so much I had to sit down like a pregnant woman for the next month."
"I had a blast and really appreciated everyone's great attitudes," Barker said. "I was impressed with the level of the skiers and the hard-work they all put in to improve."
The rain had its up and down sides. "The slopes were rarely crowded," Chatfield said. "The wait for a lift was one minute, max. It really was pouring though, we would come in for lunch and hang up our parkas and they would be just dripping off of the bottom."
Barker appreciated everyone's positive spirits. "We would all groan at first as we saw it was raining, but then it was like, 'C'mon, let's go.'"
The coach also sponsored about 18 other individual projects for students maxing out their snow quotas everywhere from California to Colorado, New York and Austria. Junior Grace Lim went with the group to Stowe, though got her Winter Term credit for dogsledding in northern Minnesota with Outward Bound.
"It was my first outdoor trip," Lim said. "It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be." Lim spent eight days in the North Woods Boundary Forest of Minnesota with three instructors and two other participants. They would spend about five to six hours a day with the dog sleds, before making camp for the night. The eight dogs would pull upwards of 1000 pounds.
Lim herself got to drive the dogs only twice during the trip, but did one "solo" night camping alone with only a single check-up from an instructor to see to her safety. The group had a one day introductory session where they discussed what to do when lost or when you have fallen through ice.
"The hardest part was to keep moving because of the cold," Lim said. "On our coldest night it was minus 35 degrees out."
Lim had to buy much of her own equipment, including the loud safety whistle to alert others to her presence when lost.
"I've always wanted to do it," Lim said. The junior had just reached the tail-end of a year off and was coming back to Oberlin after switching to an Economics major. "I wanted a new start," she said. "I would recommend it to anyone."
Barker attributed much of the popularity for his sponsorship to the Winter Term fair. "I put posters up and posted messages on KIOSK, but it wasn't until I had gone to the fair and put my snowboard out on table that people flocked to me."
Chatfield definitely felt the trip was worthwhile. "It was amazing once I got snowboarding," she said. "I figured out that wherever you point your chin, the body adjusts and follows. It's a mind-blowing thing and a big rush. It was a great way to do a Winter Term project."
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 13, February 6, 1998
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