James Wilde hails from hot and sunny Fort Lauderdale, Fla. So what’s his favorite season at Northwestern? “I know it seems really bizarre,” said Wilde, president of the Northwestern Ski and Snowboard Racing Team. “I was working in Chicago one summer, and it was 90 degrees. I found myself begging for winter. It’s great that I can look forward to the one season most people look at as the worst time at Northwestern.”
Wilde, a senior manufacturing and design engineering major, has helped guide the team from a small club, with fewer than 10 members a few years ago, to a competitive group of “very good athletes” on the 44-member alpine ski racing and snowboarding team. (Nearly 20 skiers and boarders make up the practice squad.)
“At this point it’s astronomically more competitive and serious” than in recent years, said junior mechanical engineering major Matthew Dolph, the club’s vice president.
Last season the men’s snowboarding team placed third at regionals and became the first Northwestern team to qualify for nationals.
The club practices twice a week on Wilmot Mountain, a “tiny hill” about an hour from campus, just over the Wisconsin border. During winter quarter the club travels throughout the Midwest on weekends, competing against teams from Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. They occasionally enter events in the Rockies or the Northeast.
Beyond improving the club’s image on campus as a competitive team and acquiring more funding, Wilde wants to recruit everyone who skis at Northwestern. “When I’m pitching the team,” Wilde said, “I tell people who ski, ‘It’s the best way to stay on the snow when you’re at Northwestern.’”