Students Shred Through Slopes


Sophomore Ski and Snowboard Club members (from left to right) Tia Puskar, Isabela Torres, Claire Lyhus, Chris Ribaudo and William Wheeler gather after an adventure-filled trip of skiing and snowboarding, at the bottom of the mountain at Liberty Mountain Resort.

With winter comes snow, and snow means chilling out with friends on “ski trip Fridays” in the Ski and Snowboard Club. They provide six ski and snowboard trips to three different ski resorts and automatic Night Club membership.
The Ski and Snowboard Club has been at Rockville for over 15 years, and is sponsored by Resource Teacher of Special Education Thomas Rea, former RHS parent Miles Newman and the City of Rockville Recreation and Parks Department. The transportation fee is $255, and the membership and Night Club purchase varies per package. These cards do not expire until the end of the season and students can use them outside of the club.
“The winter can be a time where kids just sit around and do nothing,” Rea, who found his passion for skiing through a club at his middle school, said. “As a kid myself, remembering, “Hey, how do you get kids outside?a��, I figured this was a way to get you outside, get you doing something active, get you to enjoy doing something in cold weather, doing a sport, having fun.”
RHS offers rounds of transportation to and from Liberty Mountain Resort, Roundtop Mountain Resort and Whitetail Resort, lasting from after school to returning approximately around midnight. The first trip was Jan. 15 and the last trip will be on Feb. 19. On days of the trips, students store their gear in a storage room during the school day. Their weekly meetings on Fridays allow members to bond and watch ski-related videos.
“My favorite part is being able to ski with my friends who also signed up, and the freedom we’re given once we get there,” sophomore and first time club member Isabela Torres said. “I love skiing and my sister did it last year, and she said it was a lot of fun and [it is] definitely worth all of the money.”
Even with unpredictable weather conditions, such as this year’s early winter warmth, the club rarely cancels or postpones trips, but they did this year due to the blizzard. Additionally, the resorts constantly update their websites and blow “snow” to cover their mountains for visitors if there is a lack of real snow. On days of trips, if the location they are going to is not in good condition, the sponsors can choose to head towards another location.
“We walk the kids through and once I feel like they’re comfortable, again you guys are teenagers, we leave the kids alone. We don’t check in or anything like that. But they have our cell phone numbers’ They’d call us if there’s any problems and we’d go immediately to First Aid,” Rea said.
However as the years go by, the club is experiencing a decrease in membership, and because of this, ski resorts do not offer support for “freebies”; free trips for chaperons. After noticing these trends, Rea believes that membership numbers are going down due to winter sport teams requiring practices and games on Friday evenings, the high price of the club and this season’s unexpected warm weather.
“[Balancing wrestling and the club] was too much, so I decided to focus on wrestling. I was disappointed because I missed it. It’s a good group of people [and] a lot of fun,” junior Cameron Hoppman said. Hoppman participated in the club his freshmen year, but had to quit due to his wrestling career. His father, however, is an active chaperon for the club.
The club is also accessible to DHOH students and students with disabilities. DHOH Students can request instructors who know sign language. For members with disabilities, the club calls the ski resorts in advance to let them know, in order to get an instructor who can support their type of disability.
“When I was a kid, I never would have learned how to ski without the school club; skiing wasn’t on anybody’s radars as a kid living in Rockville,” Rea said. “I never would have had the opportunity to learn how to ski any other way, and that’s why [I do] the program; to reach out to kids who are willing to try it out.”