Spartan Ski Club uses Rail Jam to compete, bond as a group
A lack of recent snowfall did not stop the members of MSU’s largest student organization, Spartan Ski Club, from shredding down a makeshift hill of snow to compete on Friday evening. The fourth annual Rail Jam at the Rock doubled as a philanthropy opportunity within their ski community.
Dozens came to watch skiers and snowboarders do tricks on the snow hill and a rail competing for a first place title. But it was business sophomore Sam Schowalter who rose to the top and received the highest honor.
Schowalter, who has snowboarded for seven years, said the process of setting up the event was fun. Members of Spartan Ski Club brought in their own snow and constructed a miniature hill for the competitors to ride under the bright lights.
But Rail Jam isn’t all fun and games — funds from ticket sales are donated to skiing-related service organizations.
“There’s a group up in northern Michigan called Challenge Mountain, and basically they do skiing for disabled skiers,” MSU alumnus and club president Mitch King said. “They teach a whole range of (people with) disabilities how to ski. It’s like adaptive skiing.”
According to the Challenge Mountain website, the organization got its start approximately 32 years ago and has provided its assisted skiing services to more than 1,800 people thanks to volunteers like the Spartan Ski Club. Spartan Ski Club is not just a social organization — the members value being able to help those who are unable to participate like them.
King said he originally joined Spartan Ski Club to travel out west on the big ski trips Spartan Ski Club is notorious for. It wasn’t until a couple of years into his membership that he realized how different the club was.
He explained that in juxtaposition to greek life at MSU, Spartan Ski Club feels like a more inclusive opportunity for students who all share similar ideas about what the college experience is and should be.
“It’s a community,” King said. “The big thing about us is it’s a very inclusive group. It’s all people who just want to have a good time.”
Rail Jam competitors battled for the first, second and third place titles through several rounds. The winners received free giveaway awards from companies that sponsored the event, including Red Bull and Summit Sports.