For the first time in many years, UB skiers and snowboarders are having trouble figuring out exactly where to find snow in the Queen City.
But that's not all. Members of Schussmeisters ski club are also questioning whether or not being a member of the club is worth their money.
Schussmeisters offers an opportunity to meet new friends with similar interests, and also provides a chance to test out all the ski resorts in the area. That being said, not all ski resorts are created equally and students want the best of the best.
Some have expressed their discontent with the Schussmeisters weekly schedule and the fact that there is no alternative opportunity offered by UB for winter sport enthusiasts.
Schussmeisters offers skiing at five locations weekly, with busing on specific days at specific times. A student club membership runs from $155 to $230 depending on what time of year the membership is purchased. With this Schussmeisters pass, students can ski seven days a week at specified resorts like Holiday Valley, Kissing Bridge, Buffalo Ski Club, Peek'n Peak, and Swain.
Of the five resorts, Holiday Valley is a common destination for native skiers/boarders and non-Western New Yorkers alike. With 58 slopes and 13 lifts (including high-speed quad chairs), Holiday Valley is the biggest and highest-elevated resort of the bunch. It's also not very far away. Just over an hour away, it is convenient for many students.
Unfortunately, the club only offers evening passes on Monday and Tuesday for Holiday Valley. For many, this is the busiest time of their week. Stress is high and skiing or boarding isn't one of the members' top priorities.
Weekend options for the club are Saturday evening at Kissing Bridge or an alternating trip to Swain or Peek'n Peak on Sunday – both nearly two hours away."If I could arrange the club in any way I would want, the club would go to Holiday Valley on Saturday and Sunday," said Scott Will, a freshman electrical engineering major.
Will is a skier and former season pass holder at Holiday Valley. It's where he first learned to ski last year. Will found Holiday Valley to be the perfect place to progress because of its designated beginner level areas. As his skill increased, he moved on to the more difficult slopes the resort has to offer.
Rachel Leitsch, a freshman nursing major, is accustomed to amazing ski conditions. She is a snowboarder and native to the slopes of Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, NY, considered by many to be the premier resort with the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies.
"I would definitely recommend joining the club because it's a way to meet other people who share your interests, which makes it a better option than getting a season pass to Holiday Valley on your own," Leitsch said. "I don't know if I'll join next year, though. We'll see how the rest of the season goes."
Leitsch became interested when the prospect of a discounted season pass to Holiday Valley was brought to the table.
"I think I might go for that if it was an option, because I'm not a fan of Kissing Bridge, but you have to go where the club wants you to go," Leitsch said.
Normally, a season pass to Holiday Valley costs $770, making it the most expensive out of the five resorts. However, high schools in the area and some colleges also offer discounted prices that make a season pass to Holiday Valley more affordable. For example, membership in Fredonia State's ski club includes a season pass to Holiday Valley at the price of $395. This means students can go to Holiday at any time on any day while enjoying the perks of having the season pass.
Perks include passes for springtime golfing, tubing discounts, and even half-price lift ticket offers for other resorts on the East Coast including Jay Peak and Okemo in Vermont. In other words, by going with this offer, students wouldn't necessarily sacrifice the perks that come with joining Schussmeisters, like the trips to other resorts at discounted prices because the season pass features similar packages.
Alex Brennen, a freshman environmental engineering major, chose not to join Schussmeisters despite his passion for skiing. Instead, he went for the season pass to Holiday Valley and he has enjoyed every winter, even at the steep price he now faces without the club's discount.
"If you don't mind going to those other places that's fine, but in my opinion they're too small and you end up spending a lot of time just riding on a lift," Brennen said. "Kissing Bridge is good if you want a nice terrain park, but to me it seems like a waste especially with the long lift time. I know a couple of guys in Schuss who like it, including my roommate. He's not from around here, so it's nice for him to just get out there."
Monday and Tuesday just don't work for many students, according to Brennen. He has a season pass and a cabin at Holiday Valley, so a majority of his winter is spent skiing. Brennen jumped at the idea of getting his usual season pass to the Valley at a discounted price through the school, and his friends probably would too.
"I would say that they would probably go for a season pass offered through the school if it was at a decent price," Brennen said. "At first glance, the club seemed like a chance to go wherever you wanted, whenever you wanted, and that the ‘schedule' referred only to specific days for transportation. I was psyched at first, but I was wrong about the way it was set up."
With confusion about the scheduling and difficult time schedules, Schussmeisters might not be the best option for those who really want the best skiing that this area has to offer. But the club does offer a reasonable price and a convenient opportunity to meet lots of people who enjoy winter sports.
But who's to say it couldn't be that way with a discounted price to the premier ski resort in the area, too?
Other schools do it, and UB certainly has the ability to negotiate a deal with Holiday Valley similar to that mentioned from Fredonia State, if not better. The pass could be offered as a more expensive alternative to the current schedule. Potentially, it could allow those who wish to save some money and those dedicated to Holiday Valley to exist in the club together, and maintain a connection while having the winter season they really desire.
For the shredders and skiers of this campus, making every day a Holiday is something to consider.