Duluth Rated King of the Hill for Snowboarders
Duluth is famous for many things - the aerial lift bridge, beautiful fall colors, a host of fantastic restaurants and breweries - but it recently gained some notoriety as one of the 10 best snowboarding locations for college students. This came as a surprise to some, but was old news to the UMD Snowboarding Club.
“There are a few reasons Duluth is such a prime location for snowboarders,” club president Logan Goss said. “There are three hills within 20 miles of UMD. That’s ridiculously convenient - it lets people get out and ride when a tight schedule would make it impossible.”
The three slopes offer local snowboarders more than just convenience. They offer variety, and a place that is welcoming of many different skill levels. “There’s Spirit Mountain, which is great for families and beginners, Chester Bowl, which is incredibly convenient, and Mont Du Lac, in Superior, which markets to a different crowd” club vice president Jake Riehle explained. With a designated ‘terrain park’, containing various obstacles and set pieces, Mont Du Lac has become a regular stop for the Snowboarding Club’s more adventurous members.
The club regularly does more than just hit the slopes. “We often rent out a lecture hall and watch snowboarding videos. A few times a year, we hold a raffle with the help of local businesses - we give away things like lift passes from Mont Du Lac, or gear donated by Damage Boardshop. Last year some club members volunteered to judge a snowboarding competition at Mont Du Lac - that was a lot of fun.”
Overall, Goss couldn't be more impressed by the community. "On top of the support we've received from local boardshops and ski hills, I want to give a big thanks to Oscar Grizzi Clothing Company for donating their time to make our event posters and designing our logo, as well as Hunter Gulan for providing filming and editing for our club videos."
Through maintaining a positive relationship with local retailers and snowboarding venues, UMD students have created a club that has existed for nearly a decade. "When the president graduates, he passes the title down to another member, and so on." Goss explained. "I'm not even sure when the club was founded- it was well before I got here." Riehle was also unsure when club activities began. "It has been around for more than eight years."
Even though they enjoy hitting the slopes in Duluth, every year the club opts to leave the north shore for whiter pastures. “We take a weeklong trip every year from January 4th through the 11th. Last year we went to Whitefish, Montana, and this year we’re headed to Aspen, Colorado. It has always been a blast- we set aside two ‘bus days’, which means we usually end up with five nights on the hill and four solid days of riding. It's great to get out and visit really famous places, especially with people you know."
The Snowboard Club has worked with destinations throughout the region to establish a three-stop competition series at Trollhaugen Lodge in Dresser, Wisconsin; Mont Du Lac in Superior, Wisconsin; and Elm Creek Winter Recreation Area in Maple Grove, Minn. The competition series is named "Tow Up and Throw Down" and will take place this winter.
With so much going on, it would be natural to assume that running the club must be difficult. Goss and Riehle don't think that is the case. “We’re involved in a few clubs on campus, but we're pretty sure this is one of the easiest to run. Too much structure isn’t going to win you many favors with snowboarders; we’re more about having more people get together and know one another well. The more boarders are around, the more you can build off of one another. There aren’t any club fees or attendance requirements. If someone wants to show up they are invited, and if not, we understand that people are busy.”
With an active member base, plenty of exciting events both in Duluth and far away, and support from the community, one of UMD's longest-lived organizations is sure to stick around.
Students interested are welcome to join the Snowboard Club. For more information, contact a club member to join the facebook group or leave a message via the Snowboard Club page on UMD's organization website.
Story by Zach Lunderberg, December 2013.