The weather forecast was incorrect about the temperatures on Saturday, Feb. 2. TheWeatherChannel.com had predicted temperatures to be in the twenties, a hopeful prospect for the twenty- one snowboarders and skiers that boarded vans early Saturday morning to head to the Andes Tower Hills in Alexandria, Minn. But at 8:00 a.m., as they boarded the vans shivering and excited, the day began at -10° and didn’t feel like it would get much better.
The trip, an exciting opportunity for old pros as well as a few first-timers, was organized by the Alpine Skiing and Snow- boarding Club. Among those hitting the slopes for the first time was Garrett Lysford, a junior from North Dakota. He went with his friend Jordan Dahl, also a junior, who promised to teach him all the tricks of snowboarding.
“Are you nervous?” the other students asked Lysford as the vans drove under icy skies.
“I don’t know,” he said, smiling. “It’ll be fun.”
When the group arrived at Andes–which boasts 15 downhill runs ranging from beginner to expert–it was nearly empty. It did not take much time for the group to get their gear together, and soon everyone was splitting up to ride the lifts and test the snow.
After the first few runs it became very clear that the weather had no intentions of warming up. Riding up the lifts meant stinging faces and numb noses. By snowboarding and skiing standards, the snow was in poor condition–icy and hard to manage with a board. Even still, as the hill grew busier with families and friends flocking to the only snowboard and ski resort between Duluth and the Twin Cities, there were smiles on the wind-burnt faces. And warming up in the lodge felt that much better after a few good runs in the freezing cold.
Many club members found each other in this lodge around mid-day, thawing out and eating packed sandwiches from home or hot dogs and pizza from the Whispering Pines Grill. Junior Levi Bischof even claimed that the second helping of greasy pizza in his hand was “the best pizza in the world.” As they ate, the students filled each other in on how it felt out on the slopes.
“I’m scared out there,” said Evan Balko, who graduated from Concordia last year but joined the trip to do some skiing. “I just keep thinking, ‘When am I going to fall over on the ice and die?’”
Unashamedly, despite the small scale of the runs, there were more than a few times when someone would fall after hitting an icy patch. But there was success on the hill as well; Dahl was proud of first-timer Lysford, who said that al- though he fell quite a lot, he only fell once on his last run.
Also snowboarding for the first-time was Abdallah Shuhadeh, who is an international student from Jordan studying at Concordia. Being out on the slopes for the first time was tricky, he said, and he would not have made it down his first run without the help of his friends.
“It’s not easy,” he said with a laugh. “It’s hard to learn, but it’s fun when you learn it. Then it’s hard to stop. But you gotta learn it, it’s something new. You only live once!”
With the temperatures reading 2° (with a -13° windchill), the students hit the runs once again. This time they were met with an addition to the weather: snow. It continued to snow harder and harder, until the president of the club, Corbin Rapp, announced that the group would be leaving soon.
On one of the final runs, an intermediate track called “Paradise,” Lysford boarded smoothly down toward the lift and arrived without a fall, grinning with all the satisfaction of a good run and throwing the cheering group a thumbs up.
The snow was still coming down hard in the late afternoon and the temperature had risen to 3°. The group gradually reconvened back in the lodge, surrounded by the steam from cups of hot chocolate and coffee, listening to two Andes workers listing off trivia questions for all those toasting up indoors. Although nature seemed to be giving the group it’s worst, everyone returned from the slopes red-faced and smiling. Rental equipment was returned and 20 Cobbers piled into the vans to head back to Moorhead–cold, sore, and satisfied.
“This was a good warm-up for the Montana trip we’re taking over spring break,” said Vice President Paul Kulich. “Plus, we got people snowboarding for the first time, so that’s awesome.”
As for first-timer Lysford, he got in the van and said with a laugh, “I think my coccyx is broken.” He took a hard fall on his tailbone, which Jordan happened to catch on video. But when asked if he would want to go snowboarding again, he replied:
“After I heal, yeah.”