Although we’ve been enjoying an unprecedentedly warm February, it doesn’t mean that quintessential winter Canadian sports are out of the question for fun and exercise this season. A good old-fashioned Canadian winter isn’t absolutely necessary for many winter sports.

Alexander Magony and Layan Zananiri, co-presidents of the University of Toronto Ski and Snowboard Club (UTSSC), explained, “The conditions have actually been better than other years, surprisingly.”

Open to the public, the UTSSC provides the opportunity for everyone — from those who have participated in winter sports for their entire lives, to people who have never seen snow before — to partake in some of Canada’s favourite pastimes. The club’s upcoming reading week trip — five days at Mont-Sainte-Anne and Le Massif — is the UTSSC’s main event and promises authentic winter conditions.

The Varsity sat down with the co-presidents to discuss how the club plans on promoting winter sports and how undervalued winter sports are on campus. 

The Varsity: What are some of the benefits of winter sports that students may not be aware of? 

Alexander Magony: “I find that winter sports in general have this sort of vibe like you’re making something good out of a bad situation since its cold and everyone is sort of miserable so it gives a kind of excitement to the winter season and snow… I feel like everyone who’s into winter sports tend to be more easy going [and] tend to be more social, it’s not very intense. It really is like the surfing of the north.” 

TV: How does the UTSSC promote winter sports on campus without a crucial element of winter: snow?

Layan Zananiri: “Our club is only recreational… it’s not like we’re going out searching for people who are amazing at snowboarding or amazing at skiing. Our only purpose is to promote skiing and snowboarding and community feel. So a lot… of the things that we do involve group stuff — it’s all about making friends and building [a] community.”

AM: “Skiing and snowboarding is in and of itself a very social sport…I know for me, being in pre med there’s a very certain type of population of students [in my program] and when I came to the ski club it felt like I was meeting all the other students…or there’s a general feel to the socialization within class.”

TV: Do you find that the cost of winter sports could be a barrier as to why some people do not participate?

AM: “It’s definitely one of the biggest barriers. It just depends on how much value I guess you get out of it… so it just depends on how you kind of justify it. It’s definitely expensive in an absolute sense and I’m sure that’s a barrier to many people.”

LZ: “But for what it is, when you’re comparing what we offer [compared to]… how much people usually pay for going out for seven trips to a mountain it’s affordable for people who are really interested in it.”

TV: Do you get a lot of people joining the UTSSC that have never skied or snowboarded before? How do you ensure they have a positive experience?

LZ: “So we actually offer free lessons for the first two trips up to Mount St Louis and we’ve had people that literally have never seen snow before — they’re coming from the Middle East, like literally have never felt temperature below five degrees…and so we coach them through that. We’ll teach them… through the trails how to ski and [how to take a lift] which is not easy the first time.”

AM: “Skiing and snowboarding is kind of nice to because you can kind of go at your own pace so as long as you’ve learned to stop and turn, which is what we try to get down in the first weeks. You can pretty much self teach yourself just by doing it at your own pace, how you’re comfortable and just moving up slowly.”

LZ: “Yeah, après ski!”