UMass Ski and Board Club hosts 10th annual Winter Festival

Rail Jam featured live music and snow trucked in from Physical Plant

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(Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian)

By Ana Pietrewicz, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

A lack of snow on the ground did not stop the University of Massachusetts Ski and Board Club  from holding their 10th annual Winter Festival on Friday night.

Members of the Ski and Board Club spent Thursday and Friday moving snow in a U-Haul truck from the University’s Physical Plant to the Southwest Beach, where the festival took place from 5 to 10 p.m. They used the snow to create the slope and rail course used for the skiers and snowboarders during the event’s heats.

“We shoveled it all into a U-Haul and just kept dropping loads here and then piled it up and moved it down further and further,” said Anthony Ferranti, a senior psychology major and member of UMSBC who competed in the evening’s snowboarding events, “and then this morning we set up the rails.”

The event, also known as Rail Jam, features several preliminary heats from skiers and snowboarders. Judges select the best participants from each category to move on to the next heat.

“There’s two heats for each, skiers and snowboarders,” Ferranti said. “Snowboarders, they take the top five from the first rounds, and then those top five go again for a second round. Same with skiers.”

Despite Friday’s below-freezing temperatures, the Winter Festival attracted a good-sized crowd, including participants in the events as well as more casual observers.

Grace Vieira, a sophomore building and construction technology major and new member of UMSBC, attended the Winter Festival as her first club event.

“I started skiing over winter break, I used to snowboard and then I really fell in love with skiing and I wanted to join a club where other people enjoy it too,” said Vieira on why she joined UMSBC. On why she decided to attend Friday’s festival, Vieira said, “I wanted to see the talented people that come here and how advanced the skiers are.”

The Winter Festival featured performances from musicians Mom Rock and DJ VO. Club members also set up three fire pits around the Southwest Beach so that attendees could stay warm while they watched the skiing and snowboarding competitions.

The event was put on in partnership with Ski Blandford and a number of other ski and snowboarding companies, as well as companies such as Yerba Mate and Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting.

“Some other ski brands will sometimes come and advertise stuff,” said Madison Ruhmann, a sophomore biology and public health major and UMSBC board member. “I remember last year Ski the East might have been here.”

Both participants and onlookers seemed to enjoy watching the evening’s events, cheering on the skiers and snowboarders as they took on the rails.

“It’s so much fun,” Ferranti said. “I’m not kidding, every year this is my favorite event at UMass.”

Ana Pietrewicz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @anapietrewicz.