When Kirill Myagkov PO ’22 was a first-year, the 5C Ski & Snowboard Club was just a Facebook group that set up one trip per year. Three years later, the group has more than 400 active members, frequent trips, community outreach and a competition team.
The competition team, despite being very young, had an impressive finish at the U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association National Championships in Lake Placid, NY. They sent eleven athletes, seven of which finished in the top 20 of an event. The women’s team finished in the top 10 and a total of six athletes received First Team Academic All-American honors.
“I was really, really proud of that result because it was super exciting to finally see a result that put us on the national stage,” Myagkov said.
The club was revamped in 2020 with three initiatives facilitating recreational trips, club competition teams and education within winter sports and activities. For each of these subjects, the club’s overarching goal is making winter sports more accessible.
“Our focus was: ‘let’s create a really cool community of individuals who, whether or not you’ve never seen snow before, or you grew up ski racing or whatever, let’s create an environment where everybody can participate in winter sports on campus,’” Myagkov said.
One way they’ve fostered inclusivity is through their beginner ski days, which provide full funding for first-generation, low-income students and fill the rest of the spots with students who’ve never skied before. In general, the club strives to keep the participation cost as low as possible, even on trips not just for beginners.
Another step they’ve taken towards increasing accessibility is regularly recruiting students to their team who haven’t competed before, emphasizing that anyone can compete if they want to.
“From all of the athletes that ended up traveling to nationals, only three had ever had competition experience before this year,” Myagkov said. “So that was super exciting to see.”
The team competes in the Southwest conference of the USCSA league. The league has a total of approximately 5,000 athletes competing in all events throughout the year.
Myagkov explained that the team typically trains about twice a week on weekends, but each athlete gets to choose how much they want to train and at what level they want to compete.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the team only had the opportunity to compete once this season before flying across the country for the national championships at Lake Placid. This was the team’s second time competing at nationals, and many underclassmen’s first time ever.
Myagkov was especially excited to get back on the slopes and see the club he founded compete at the highest level.
“I grew up ski racing [so] for me, this is a little bit of nostalgia. It’s really fun to be out there setting courses [and] helping people get better at skiing to go to nationals,” Myagkov said.
Zoe Hancock SC ’23, Claire Campbell SC ’24, Nevada Lee SC ’22, Ella Thunen SC ’25 and Haley Morton CM ’25 competed in women’s alpine ski . For men’s alpine ski, John Peabody PO ’25 and Myagkov both finished in the top 20, in the slopestyle and skier cross events, respectively.
For women’s snowboard, Helena Robinowitz PO ’22 and Emily Piette PZ ’22 both finished top 20 in giant slalom, and Robinowitz also placed top 20 in slalom. Vice President of the club Jacob Al-Husseini PO ’22 finished top 20 in the boarder cross men’s snowboarding event. The sole men’s snowboard competitor, Brian Bishop PO ’22, hit the snow park for the men’s freestyle.
Zoe Hancock SC ’23 had a standout performance for the team, finishing third overall in the women’s alpine skier cross, earning her First Team All-American status.
“When Zoe got third and we all went to the awards banquet, and she went up on the podium – that was super exciting for the team,” Myagkov said. “Being there with everyone was definitely just the best part.”
Myagkov competes in many events but says the skier cross is his favorite, which he describes as essentially motocross on skis.
“In skier cross, it’s a little bit of tussling on the course because you’re right up next to one another,” he said. “It’s a super fun event, because at a certain point, it’s kind of anyone’s game, and it doesn’t really matter who the best skier is — it’s who picked the best line and who got lucky.”
At nationals, he also competed in giant slalom, an alpine skiing event in which the racer has to maneuver between paneled gates that they brush with their shoulder as they ski down the mountain. For this event, Myagkov and his teammates had to adjust to the Upstate New York conditions.
“The thing about the East Coast, which we’re not used to out west … it’s a very, very icy environment on the mountain and so you have to really keep a very solid edge in giant slalom to be able to really carve strong turns,” he explained.
For Myagkov, his individual performance wasn’t the most important aspect of this year’s national competition.
“While I didn’t perform as well as I’d like to… it was really exciting to see a lot of the athletes from the Claremont Colleges [who had] never competed before this year have just so much excitement,” he said.
Myagkov feels that the result and atmosphere at nationals was representative of just how far the club and the team has come since he first came to Claremont.
“It wasn’t a focus just on those top people, at the end of the day it was a team adventure and a team endeavor,” he said. “I think that I was super proud of how everyone was really supportive of one another and very excited to be there together… we’re really building an awesome community of people that are excited to compete at [whatever level] they’re able to.”
Up next, the 5C Ski & Snowboard Team has their final race, the Southwest USCSA conference’s annual alumni competition in mid-April at Mammoth Mountain.