Ski club offers new skills, Colorado adventure to cadets

A cadet skies down the mountain at Keystone Resort Nov. 22 during a trip with the recreational ski club here. The cadet-run club offers weekly trips November-March, presenting cadets the opportunity to ski or snowboard affordably, meet new people and take on a new hobby. (U.S. Air Force/Courtesy Photo)

A cadet skies down the mountain at Keystone Resort Nov. 22 during a trip with the recreational ski club here. The cadet-run club offers weekly trips November-March, presenting cadets the opportunity to ski or snowboard affordably, meet new people and take on a new hobby. (U.S. Air Force/Courtesy Photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- One way cadets can get away and experience the mountains this winter is by hitting the slopes with the recreational ski club here.

The cadet-run club offers weekly trips November-March, presenting cadets the opportunity to ski or snowboard affordably, meet new people and take on a new hobby.

"When you're on the mountain you're not thinking about the Academy," said Cadet 1st Class Dan Walsh, a cadet in charge of the club. "You're not thinking about your tests or homework because you're thinking about skiing. Being able to get away for the weekend and hang out with friends can be a benefit to your success at the Academy."

Cadets must be members of the ski club to attend the trips. Members pay for their lift ticket, gear and $60-80 for bus transportation all season.

"Joining the ski club here is a great way to gain hassle-free access to skiing," said Stan Radar, an assistant professor in the Civil Engineering Department and assistant officer in charge of the club. "Rental ski and snowboarding equipment is available through the Academy's Outdoor Recreation Center.  A bus picks up cadets in the cadet area, and drops them off as close to the ski lift as possible.  Cadets typically chat, read, listen to music, eat, occasionally study and sleep on the way to and from the ski area, letting someone else worry about the driving."

Skiing and snowboarding isn't for everyone but the club makes it economical and convenient for cadets to give it a try, Radar said.

"I think skiing is part of the Colorado experience that every cadet should have an opportunity to enjoy," he said. "My first experience was as a third class cadet here in 1974.  After one day on the mountain, I got hooked for life on skiing.  Skiing and snowboarding provide a wonderful opportunity to engage in a healthy, exhilarating sport while enjoying the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains."

The club travels to Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Vail, and Beaver Creek during the season, primarily on weekends. Most cadets who take advantage of the trips are fourth classmen, Radar said.

"We give them a chance to get away from the grind of Doolie (freshmen) life and enjoy an experience that is very hard to match anywhere else," he said. "Cadets should try skiing or snowboarding at least once. They may discover a life-long passion they can enjoy and pass on to their children, as I did."

Walsh said he chose to be a CIC for the club because he enjoyed it so much as a freshman.

"I wanted to give back," he said. "None of the CICs are qualified ski instructors but most of us have skied or snowboarded most of our lives so we'll teach new cadets how to ski safely."

The biggest challenge with alpine sports is the initial start, Walsh said.

"You have to be willing to try it, fall a couple of times and get right back up," he said. "It's a process, both physically and mentally. When you become more confident in your physical abilities you'll become more confident in, 'Hey, I can think through this.'"

For more information regarding club membership call 333-9768.