Club Focus; UCD Snowsports ClubIn the first instalment of Club Focus, Rory Clarke & the University Observer take to the slopes, as we look at the Snowsports Club.The Snowsports Club is one of the most popular clubs on campus, and this is largely down to how well it is run and the amount of events they put on. They are also known for their welcoming attitude and indomitable spirit (regardless of how many times they get ploughed in the snow!). I chatted to Club Captain for the 2018/2019 session Conal O’Neill to understand how the club has gone from strength to strength. Founded in 2006 by a group of friends who loved skiing and snowboarding, the club gives a medium for like minded individuals to go on organised trips away and to hone their skills on skis and board, all while enjoying many different social events throughout the year. On a week-to-week basis the club is a slick operation. There are sign-ups on Monday morning for both the ski/snowboard lessons/race training on Thursday nights and for the freestyle training run on Friday nights. These training/freestyle sessions take place in the state-of-the-art facilities of the Ski Club of Ireland in Kilternan. An emphasis is also placed on the social aspect of the club. They run a social event every Thursday night after skiing for all those who attend the lessons - to compare flips, falls and all manner of snow-induced highs . Although O’Neill himself is a veteran of the slopes, having started skiing at 5 and racing with the Ski Club of Ireland at 15, he assures me that these lessons are aimed at “people of all abilities”. He is clearly passionate about sharing his love of the snow with all. He says that “snowsports is something that I think everyone should experience at least once in their lives”. To this end, the club organises a broad spectrum of training and events; from absolute beginners to advanced race training, and everything in between. The Snowsports club attempts to overcome Ireland’s lack of consistent snow to offer UCD students the opportunity to try out snowsports without significant financial outlay. O’Neill acknowledges this as one of the main reasons that people join up, “snowsports is one of those sports that can be difficult and expensive to do outside our club. Snow is a rarity, so snowsports are quite exotic to many. Our goal is to provide a way that people can try out snowsports without having to go to the snow”. In this manner people can avoid risking large sums on a skiing trip that they may or may not enjoy - although O’Neill is confident it would be the former, “the feeling you get skiing down a mountain is a very hard one to put into words, but its one that each and everyone of us in the club have fallen in love with”. One of the most popular aspects of the club is its yearly ski trip the Alps, which have become stuff of campus legend. O’Neill speaks fondly about his experiences of these trips since joining the club. “Personally, my highlight within the club has to be the ski trip. After my first trip to Val D’Isere in 2017, I did not think it could get any better, but the committee worked hard for the trip to Les Deux Alpes in January this year and it blew the previous one away!”. Plans for this years trip are well underway and I am assured that it’s looking even better than before. Spots for this celebrated trip are always at a premium so those interested are advised to keep a close eye on the club’s social media, lest they miss out on the experience of a lifetime! This industrious club does not stop there however. Several smaller trips are also organised throughout the year, to the UK or within Ireland itself. In addition to this they have a number of traditional events pencilled into their annual calendar - including the Annual Snowsports Ball, Freshers Night and their Aprés Ski Trip Night. While the priority within the club seems to be fun they also compete - and quite successfully too - in a number of competitions during the year. This includes the Irish Intervarsities, where their record is nothing less than outstanding. Last year they fended off DIT and TCD to claim their 12th title in the 13 years since their foundation. O’Neill is determined that this record will not lapse on his watch “we plan on continuing our success this year too!”. They also compete in Colours, the British University Dry Slope Championships and the Leinster Snow League. If you are interested in joining the Snowsports Club it is easier than ever. Go down to the Sports Expo during Freshers Week (17th-20th September) in the Sports Halls and be sure to chat to O’Neil and the rest of this year’s committee. If, for whatever reason, you can’t make it down during Freshers Week you can sign-up during the weekly Monday sign-ups. You can also get in contact with the club on Facebook (UCD Snowsports Club), Instagram (ucdsnowsports), Snapchat (ucd_snowsports) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you might have. Get your snow on!