IRELAND. A place where you can never ever tell what the weather is going to be like. Put on that big heavy coat? It’s guaranteed to be sunny. Decided to break out the shorts? Your leg hair will be skinned off you by the wind.
Something we almost never get though, is snow. Whenever we rarely get a flurry, it’s at the most random time, like St. Patrick’s Day last year. But if it sticks, you’ll see people breaking out sleds, ski’s and snowboards to race down hills. They’re subconsciously taking part in snowsports
In UCD, that kind of things falls under the banner of UCD Snowsports club. Going into its 11th year as a club, the unique group was formed by a group of friends and was a medium for like minded individuals to go on a major trip to the Alps.
That tradition has continued all the way. Speaking to the University Observer, club captain Michael Kerr reflected on the college year gone by:
“It’s the biggest event for us. 200 students went over the Val D’isere in France in January for a week and it was amazing. We had the annual Ball which was held in the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, as well as the Fresher’s Night, Apres Ski Trip Night and plenty of weekly social events as well.”
That’s a fairly impressive year by all accounts, particularly the trip up the French mountains. There’s very few slopes to go down in Ireland, (discounting the Hill of Tara) but this doesn’t seem to bother the Snowsports club:
“Having no snow is not an issue for us. We go for training two days a week (Thursday and Friday) up in the ski club of Ireland in Kilternan on a dry slope. It’s not perfect, but we have to work with what we’ve got.”
The high point of the year for Kerr however, came at the very start. “Seeing the sheer amount of people that were eager to learn how to ski (was my highlight). In our first training session this year, we brought 120 people up to Kilternan for lessons. Seeing the place flooded with UCD students who were having an absolute blast brought a smile to my face.”
The practice and lessons paid off. On the 9th of April, Trinity, DIT, DCU, Maynooth and UCD all competed for the Intervarsities title in racing and freestyle in Kilternan. UCD Snowsports had a team of 30 ranging from beginners all the way up to Irish international racers. The college came out on top by a total of 27 points, regaining the title after losing last year. And it wasn’t just a flash in the pan – this was the clubs 11th intervarsity in 12 years.
Finishing the year with 570 members, the wheel keeps turning during the summer.
“We start all over again” said Kerr. “Plan and organise everything for next year, especially the trip. The new committee is being elected on Wednesday 19th April so they will have a busy summer after exams.”
You see some pretty grotesque injuries at the top level of skiing and snowboarding, but Kerr is quick to dismiss the danger, maintaining that the club will always put safety first.
“It can be dangerous yes, but we always take precautions. We encourage our members to always play it safe. We provide safety equipment such as helmets during training to make sure our members are protected.”
Looking to the future, the captain has grand ambitions:
‘(In ten years time) I hope to see it as the biggest club in UCD. Snowsports is really starting to grow internationally thanks to the X Games and it shows with the amount of people who are taking up skiing and snowboarding for the first time’
Fancy grabbing your skis and boards and joining the club right now? Mixed news.
“As it is the end of the academic year we aren’t signing new members up. The first time we will be signing members up is during fresher’s week next September. All they have to do is come down to stand during the week. It’s that simple. If for any reason they can’t make it down during fresher’s week we do hold weekly signups every Monday throughout the year.
“We are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and of course the club email. If anyone wants to get in contact with us they can get a hold of us on any of those platforms. Alternatively, if they want to speak to us personally they can pop down to us at our weekly signups and one of the committee members will help them with anything they need.”