Parking lot party

Schussmeisters holds second annual Fifth Season Festival to kick off winter season

The Spectrum

Snow hasn't fallen in Buffalo yet, but Schussmeisters Ski Club didn't let that stop them from showing off their tricks Thursday.

Over 150 people flooded the parking lot - which was filled with scraped ice from various Buffalo hockey rinks - outside The U on Sweet Home Road. Skiers, snowboarders and skateboarders displayed their electrifying tricks for local residents and students at the second annual Fifth Season Festival to kick off the 2013-14 ski season.

The event was highlighted by a rail jam, which was comprised of a skate park section with rails and boxes for skateboarders and a snow-filled ramp for skiers and snowboarders provided by Holiday Valley Resort.

The festival focused on local businesses and featured a vendor village to promote the shops that support Schuss, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing inexpensive skiing to the UB community.

"I think that it's good that [Schuss] gets involved with the local businesses to get more people [to them]," said Michael Danaher, a freshman engineering major who has skied since age 6. "Honestly, if Schuss wasn't involved with any of these businesses, I probably would never hear about them because I have a ski shop at home that I go to. But I definitely like these guys better."

The festival began with a skate session at 3 p.m. followed by a snowboard/ski session at 6 p.m. Schuss welcomed riders for registration at 5 p.m.

The Boardroom Snowboard Shop, Eastcoast Wax, Holiday Valley Resort, Phatman Boardshop, Snowflake Ski Shop and TwoFourFive Boardshop were among the businesses that attended the event.

"When buying equipment, it's good to have an informed opinion about what you're buying, and these stores do a lot more than just sell the equipment," said Schuss Chairman Marc Greenbaum, a junior computer and electrical engineering major. "They do servicing and a lot of community organizing around the skiing community, so we invite them to come to these events. They show us a lot of support, offer discounts to our members and just try to enhance the ski experience."

Phatman Boardshop, which has been assisting Schuss since 1994, provided the skate-park props. The organization was also on hand at this year's festival to raise money for the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation, an initiative created in memory of Alexandria Rice, an 18-year old Buffalo resident who was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding her long board on July 8, 2011. The foundation hopes to build a skate park in Amherst in her memory.

"We just want to build a memorial park in remembrance of her so that when people are drinking and driving or texting and driving, there is a remembrance of it," said Bob Knab, Phatman Boardshop's owner and a former Schuss member.

WRUB, UB's student radio station, gave out free CDs at the festival.

"We're just out here supporting the local ski scene," said Sam Hakim, a senior communication major and WRUB's general manager. "I know Schuss goes through a lot of hard work to make this happen. I think it's an awesome event that really gets the community going ... I like that it's a celebration of the changing of the seasons."

Currently, the price for a Schuss season pass is $175 until Oct. 18. Passes take effect on Dec. 15 and include free busing to and from various mountains and resorts until March 29.