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UI club ready to hit the slopes

BY COURTNEY SPEARS | DECEMBER 17, 2009 7:30 AM

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The powdery, white-coated roads and hills of winter create excitement in one of the UI’s student groups. The Ski and Snowboard Club members have been waiting almost a year for snow to fall.

In the meantime, the club hosted around 25 events, including a broom-ball tournament, BBQ, and various tailgating get-togethers supplemented with weekly meetings and social gatherings.

Despite being a low-key club for most of its existence, the group has attained record numbers this year. UI senior and club President Blake Meyer said its popularity rises and falls. In the past, membership remained fewer than 40. But for the last two years, it has catered to more than 150 students.

As the snow falls, members and officers gear up to hit the slopes, Iowa-style. During winter break, the club will take its annual trip. This year’s $400 excursion involves a weeklong stay at Breckenridge, Colo., providing trip-goers access to five different mountains.

“[The price] is a huge selling point,” Meyer said. “The walk-up price just for Vail is already more than the price for the entire trip.” For a five-day lift ticket, Vail charges $445.

Meyer and Shaheed Al-Mabuk, the club’s event coordinator, said the economy has had no visible effects on the club’s participation.

“We’ve had years that are down, years that are up,” Meyer said. “Everybody talks about the economy this year, but this is our best year ever.”

Al-Mabuk agreed, attributing the affordability to student-friendly sponsor company, Echo Tours of Los Angeles, one of the nation’s largest operators of college-student-organization ski and snowboard trips.

“It really seems the economy doesn’t affect our trips at all,” Al-Mabuk said. “If anything, we’ve seen higher numbers since the economy’s been down, mostly because the company we work with makes it really affordable for us.”

As the group’s officers, the two have seen the positive effects of advertising.

“We’ve seen a lot of expansion that can be contributed to the abilities that you gain through university approval, which allows for more extensive advertising,” Meyer said.

The club runs on a $40 membership fee, which covers social events and group T-shirts for members.

While many members have some sort of snow-sport experience, Meyer said, beginners are provided with necessary information on lessons, and resorts are selected with veterans and rookies alike in mind.

“We are very careful in our selection of resorts,” he said. “We typically try to choose places that will be friendly for everybody.”


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