Students escape to the mountain for credit

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Opportunities to ski or snowboard depend on transportation and students often have to be creative in finding ways to get up to the mountain.

Senior Matt McGowan prefers to drive in his own vehicle, but for those who do not have access to transportation, the next best thing is the paracurricular downhill skiing and snowboarding class offered during Spring Semester.

Associate Professor of English David Sumner, who will lead the class this spring, said it is an amazing opportunity he recommends to anyone of any ability.

“Almost everything in college is academic, so this class is a good way to get outside and have a very non-academic and fun experience,” Sumner said.

Students in the class are transported by bus to Mount Hood the first five Saturdays of Spring Semester. Everyone, regardless of skill level, is required to take a lesson with a professional skier or snowboarder prior to hitting the slopes on their own.

Junior Joey Catania, who took the class last year, recommends the class for students new to skiing or snowboarding.

“It’s great to have a lesson,” Catania said. “Last year we had an actual professional snowboarder who showed us the ropes. After that, we were cut loose for three hours.”
The class has a $75 fee, plus the cost of lift tickets. Students who do not have their own gear have the option of renting ski and snowboard equipment.

Sumner encourages students to take the class even if it seems expensive.

“Honestly, if you break it down, this class is at a far-reduced rate than if you arranged it all yourself,” he said. “And with transportation taken care of, it’s a deal.”

Sumner is excited and eager to take the class up to the mountain while Professor of Biology Chris Gaiser, who usually teaches the class, is on sabbatical. He encourages students to take the class even if they are beginners.

“Last year we had two girls in the class who had never skiied before in their lives and they had a great time,” Sumner said.

The class reminds Sumner of a time when he was eight years old, and he was riding the lift up to the top of a mountain in his hometown of Brighton, Utah, with his older brother.
It was a beautiful and sunny spring day, perfect for skiing. When they reached the top, he jumped off, but his brother forgot and went back down the mountain. Sumner said his brother was stuck, and they had to stop the lift to get him off.

“I’ve been teasing my brother about it for 30 years,” he said. “And that’s just one of the reasons why I love skiing. It is these kinds of memories that make it so rewarding.”
Sumner thinks the greatest benefit of leading the class is he is able to interact with students in a completely different environment than in a classroom setting.

“I am addicted to skiing, and I am excited to share this passion with students,” he said.
For Catania, the skiing and snowboarding class was an amazing experience, and he was glad he had signed up.

“I went with a lot of my friends,” he said. “We were just laughing and having a good time.”
Catania was glad he did not have to worry about transportation, and going with a big group of students was a plus. The lessons were extremely helpful, and everyone had individual attention from the instructor.

Catania said the best aspect of the class was that it gave him the opportunity and incentive to attend every session.

“It was time set aside Saturdays so we could actually go snowboarding during Spring Semester,” he said.

McGowan thinks the skiing and snowboarding class is highly beneficial for students who have a hard time finding transportation, but he prefers to drive himself.

“I drive my truck because it has four-wheel drive,” he said. “Transportation is not an issue for me, so I can enjoy going up on my own with friends whenever I want to.”

There are currently four spots left in the skiing and snowboarding class. For more information, contact Sumner at [email protected] or 503-883-2389.