No boots, no skis, no problem: 5C Ski & Snowboard Club creates access at altitude

After a competition, the 5C Ski team poses for a photo at a local mountain (Courtesy: Carolina Auerbach CM ’26)

Promoting an environment of positivity and inclusivity, members of the 5C Ski organization, which includes both the team and the club, are working to break down stereotypes to make this winter sport accessible for everyone.

Growing up skiing, Kirill Myagkov PO ’23 said he was excited to attend a college close to the mountains. Coming into his first year, he sought to find a community of skiers among fellow students but was surprised when he found that the 5Cs lacked a formal team.

“When I came to campus, [skiing] was something that was lacking in my life. My [first] year there was kind of a club that existed, but it was really just a Facebook group … they didn’t have any real institutional resources,” Myagkov said.

Lacking resources and the community he desired, Myagkov said he sought to provide for others the community centered around skiing that he had wanted. Myagkov took over leadership of the club as a first-year and eventually went on to create the current 5C Ski and Snowboard Club.

“At the end of my [first] year I took over as president of the existing organization, but really just founded a completely separate organization … the real emphasis and mission being: let’s create an accessible organization on campus that is going to be able to facilitate memorable experiences — whether or not it be for folks who are interested in recreating or folks who are interested in competing,” Myagkov said.

Since its founding, the organization has amassed over 700 students on its email list. The organization has also evolved to include both the club and a ski team, with opportunities for members to get involved in either or both.

The club hosts two “Beginner Days” in the Big Bear Mountain Resort during the Spring semester where first-time skiers get the opportunity to take introductory ski lessons with instructors at no additional cost. The Club also hosts a trip to Mammoth Mountain during reading days, the week before finals during the fall semester.

Current Ski and Snowboard Club and ski team member Carolina Auerbach CM ’26 spoke of the distinction between the club and the team, emphasizing that while people of all skill levels are welcome to join both, the team is a structured entity that entails more involvement and commitment.

“Ski Club is now separate from ski team,” Auerbach said. “Ski Club is more communal and it’s more for everyone. Ski Club is in charge of doing reading days and beginner days. Ski team is a smaller branch and we’re all registered in the league and that is more intensive with twice-a-week training and races most weekends at the first half of the second semester.”

While the organization now has two parts, as a whole it is still centered around its original goal of inclusivity and accessibility for all. Acknowledging that not everyone has the means or resources to be able to participate in these expensive winter sports, Myagkov and the executive board created an accessibility program to provide members with gear and equipment ranging from skis, poles, boots, winter jackets, winter pants, helmets and more that can all be rented free of charge.

“If you want to experience the mountains and winter sports, always reach out to us and that’s with respect to the team or the club. We want to be able to facilitate these experiences for anyone and everyone who is really passionate about sharing these experiences with us,” Myagkov said.

Auerbach spoke on the culture of the organization, emphasizing that its original mission of fostering community and creating opportunity is very much alive today.

“I love that there’s a lot of inclusivity for different athletes, different levels and different experiences,” Auerbach said. “The stereotype of skiing being a predominantly white sport and it being expensive is very much so true, but I think that we have an incredible executive board and staff … there’s a lot being done to really get everyone up on the mountain. You get people from tons of different backgrounds and we have people from all over the world.”

Summer Ellis CM ’24 said she has had a similar experience. As a new member, joining in the 2022 to 2023 season, she said she found a new community within the ski team.

“Everyone who’s raced before really welcomes people who have never raced and really wants to give you pointers and help you get better,” Ellis said. “We are also just able to have fun and get up to the mountains on a Friday. We do homework together, we ski together, we eat together and I’ve been able to meet so many new people across the 5Cs … it gives you a great opportunity to meet new people.”

With an emphasis on making the sport accessible for all, Ellis said the organization is hoping to further build its team and encourages anyone who is interested in winter sports, regardless of skill level, to join.

“There’s definitely a range of skill levels that compete,” Ellis said. “You can really take it as seriously or relaxed as possible and just have fun with it.”

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