Winter can seem exceedingly long for students who aren’t into snowy sports, but Plymouth State University solves this dilemma with Ski Day, which encourages those who have never skied or snowboarded to experience these iconic New Hampshire activities along with their more seasoned classmates.
For many, the free lift tickets, rentals, and lessons can lead to previously unimagined joy.
Bao Nguyen ’20, an international student from Vietnam, had never seen snow before he came to PSU. He’s tackled the White Mountains with the same adventurous spirit that brought him halfway around the world to pursue his education.
“I took one lesson, and, since then I’ve just been going to the slope and hitting it, and hitting it hard. And when I fall, I just get up and do it again,” he said with a smile in between runs. “Lots of people around here are really good at either skiing or snowboarding, so you can ask them what to do and they’ll show you. You just keep practicing and that’s what it takes to get better. I really like it and definitely encourage others to try it.”
The site of this year’s event, Cannon Mountain, is steeped in tradition. The country’s first down-mountain ski trail was cleared there in 1933, and 1938 saw the inauguration of North America’s first aerial tramway and establishment of the first professional ski patrol. Cannon was selected this fall as PSU’s mountain partner by a student vote, and Ski Day, $5 lift tickets, and other bargains are highlights of a three-year contract with the University.
“We could be creating Cannon lifers!” said Cannon Sales Manager Julianne Ireland Boissoneault, who notes that only three percent of the country skis. Boissoneault was impressed that PSU students were polite and appreciative. “Students were respectful and excited, and the overall vibe across the entire mountain was good and positive.”
“We had 1,400 attendees,” said PSU Director of Student Life Tevis Bryant. “Special thanks go to VP of the student body, Joshua Chandler, for all of his hard work in helping to head the event.”
Ski Day is the ultimate group bonding and memory-making activity. “It’s just a great experience every year,” said Sydney Welch ’20. “It’s the best to hang out with friends and ride the mountain,” agreed Tylor Austin ’21.
The annual day of fun is just one aspect of the supportive environment that has made Nguyen, a biochemistry major, feel at home. “The community is really nice and everybody is really friendly,” he says. “It’s very inclusive, I don’t feel isolated, and there are a lot of resources for me here. It’s a very good cultural experience.”
Plymouth State’s student body unquestionably has more than its share of black diamond experts, but Nguyen’s previous lack of experience isn’t uncommon. “Ski Day is great because I have friends who don’t know how to ski, so it’s an opportunity for them to learn at a super price,” said Jessica Rousakos ’21. Others, like Gillian Guillemette ’20, are able to refine their technique. “I don’t know how to ski really well so my friends have been teaching me,” she said.
The day helps strengthen community ties by allowing people to step outside their typical roles. “It’s great to see students having a good time with faculty and staff,” said Professor Chris Chabot. “It gives us a chance to share some fun together, to get out and get the heart pumping and the blood moving. You learn better when you’re in good shape!”
“It’s a great tradition,” added Director of Human Resources Caryn Ines. “It’s so much fun to see our students in a different environment and to take time to spend with our colleagues outside of the work environment.” Ines noted that Ski Day is also a great selling point for employee recruitment.