Secret ski squad uncovered
By Carlos Di Ponio
Western has a very compelling secret and it comes on two skis. And no, it's not Bobo the skiing bear.
The Western ski team somehow finds itself tucked away in the most remote corners of conversation and athletic life at Western. This is quite shocking when one considers the quality of athletes put down ski slopes every year. In fact, outside of last year's loss to Queen's, Western's ski team has won 13 of the last 15 Southern Ontario Division University Racing Circuit championships.
Co-captain Mike Wellman, the 1996 university circuit overall winner, attributes the team's lack of notoriety to the fact that it is no longer a university sport at Western.
"A big reason for our lack of recognition is the fact skiing lost varsity status seven years ago due to an insurance lawsuit involving an injured skier," Wellman said. "Since then, skiing has been neglected somewhat and is considered a 'dangerous' sport."
A stigma attached to skiing is that it is a difficult sport, which chases many would-be skiers away. However, Wellman said team executives have sought to give the team more of a club-like status.
"We've designed the ski team as more of a club type of thing. It's still competitive, but camaraderie through social events allows the team to gel by getting together, meeting all kinds of people involved in skiing and just having a great time."
This social atmosphere encompasses dryland events, the activities which take place during the non-snow months of October and November. The team stays in shape through dryland training, weight training and soccer, as well as social gatherings which promote a team-like atmosphere before the season actually begins.
When the season does begin, it's business as usual. Out of 90 tryouts, 40 people make the team, which is split into two sets of 20 for competition. The team has many exceptional returning athletes and experience on the provincial level, including last year's statistical champion, Maclean Wood and national junior team member Storey Badger. The team also thrives off of strong leadership from co-captians Wellman and Andrew Von Teichman.
As a co-captain, Teichman feels the need to help his fellow skiers along and promote the team effectively. Promotional efforts have included designing a catchy logo, selling gloves and long-sleeve t-shirts.
"Whether people know it or not, we play a significant part in university athletics at Western." Teichman said "The goal for Mike and myself the last two years was to better organize and promote the team."
The ski team members have a strong recent record of success in competition. They carry themselves with a sense of purpose in promoting their efforts and express pride in their accomplishments.
"We take pride in our roles as role models for the younger guys but we also want to set an example in showing the importance of publicizing the team on campus," says Teichman.