When one pictures sunny Southern California, snow sports are typically the last thing on their mind.
But LINES, the 5Cs’ ski and snowboard club, wants to help students to start thinking bigger and colder. Club members have the the opportunity to go on skiing trips to Big Bear and Mammoth Mountain, participate in the club’s competition team, enjoy on-campus movie showings, join workshops at the club lounge and participate in trips geared toward beginners.
LINES leadership, as a whole, wants to provide students with the opportunity to do what they love in the outdoors and spread their love for winter sports to other students.
“There’s nothing better than being on a mountain on a blue, good day … and zooming down,” said Millie Hillman SC ’21, the club’s “shred staff” coordinator. “It really just gives me an appreciation of where I am in life, where I go to college and [how] I value my time. It really just makes me live in the moment.”
Alex Paff SC ’21, vice president of operations and logistics, noted that a major goal for the club this year is to include more people in their ski and snowboard community.
“The hope is to do [more open events] going forward, where we can get as much of the student body involved as possible,” Paff said. “I think there are a lot of barriers to entry with a lot of outdoor activities,” she added, noting that the 5Cs don’t have any skiing classes available. “[We hope to] fill that gap for people who are interested in it and want to pursue it and don’t know how to.”
The club has historically been known for hosting its annual Reading Daze trip, which takes place during the end of the fall semester, coinciding with Pomona College’s reading days. This past year, club President Kirill Myagkov PO ’22 said that over 200 people from the 5Cs took the trip up to Mammoth Mountain to ski and snowboard. For many, this was members’ first real interaction with the club.
“I think Reading Daze is really our highlight, not just as an event, but because I really see that as [most’s] first exposure to the club,” said Santi Saravia PO ’21, LINES’ vice president of student support and outreach.
The LINES club, however, has recently been undergoing a transformative period, said Jacob Al-Husseini PO ’22, vice president of club development. As snow sports are often expensive and historically lacked an on-campus presence, the club’s leadership is working to make skiing and snowboarding participation more inclusive and welcoming to the entire 5C community.
One of the initiatives that LINES is working on is creating a physical lounge space for the club, which will be housed in Pomona’s Clark III basement. “We’ve done a lot of work — we put carpets down … we’re painting the walls and we’re totally renovating that whole thing. It’s going to be a really nice spot that will hopefully help our club continue its legacy,” Saravia said.
The club leaders hope the lounge can serve as a space to host ski gear workshops and hold office hours to answer questions about skiing and snowboarding, which will help make the club more approachable.
“[The lounge is a] really cool way to make the club a lot more accessible and provide … support,” Hillman said. “[People] are nervous about going [to the mountains] for the first time — [maybe] not knowing anyone or not having anything to ski with. They can come to an event hosted by LINES, kick back, have some snacks, choose their skis and meet some cool people.”
Now buoyed by having their own space, LINES is also looking into creating an equipment rental system, making the steep costs of snow sports even more accessible.
“Hopefully, over the years, we’ll be able to amass our own equipment that we’ll be able to rent out … to people that need [equipment],” Myagkov said.
LINES is also focusing on increasing trips geared towards people who are new to winter sports, having hosted their first beginners trip March 1 at Big Bear.
“We fully [funded] 21 cohort students from Pomona … that have never been up to the mountains before, getting them a lesson from the [professional] instructors up there and having members of LINES … ski team members … riding around with them and [having] a good time,” Myagkov said.
Myagkov said they geared their pilot program toward demographics who may not have gone skiing or snowboarding before, acknowledging the difficulty of accessing ski and snowboarding equipment as well as transportation.
“We wanted to put all those resources [from the ASPC and cohort groups] toward demographics that [may] have never really had the opportunity to be in the mountains,” Myagkov said. “So FLI, Posse groups, members of those demographics — we specifically advertised [the trip] to them [with help from] Travis Brown, director of the [Quantitative Skills Center].”
Al-Husseini emphasized that LINES’ main goal has been to make a sport that is typically inaccessible to large portions of the population into a real option for recreational activity.
“Skiing and snowboarding are some of the most homogenous activities people can do,” Al-Husseini said. “It’s incredibly socioeconomically gate-kept.”
When Al-Husseini and his co-leaders assumed leadership positions for the club this year, they had a vision in mind to transform the nature of the club and its relationship to the 5Cs. Their goal for this year is to demonstrate that they have the initiative and capability to make snow sports accessible to a larger portion of the Claremont community.
“We can bring a lot of [people] along who have never had the opportunity to explore the mountains … and show them what we love, and hopefully they’ll pick it up along the way and make the community bigger,” Al-Husseini said.
For Myagkov, witnessing people enjoy the mountains so much is the most worthwhile part of being in the club.
“I was very lucky that … I just grew up within the circumstances that I was close enough to the mountains and that my parents really valued the outdoors,” Myagkov said. “Really experiencing the fact that people are having so much joy in the mountains based off of the work that we do at the club … that’s definitely the favorite part of the club for me, just being able to give those experiences to other people.”