It was the Winter Olympics, CC- style: No luge, no figure skating, no ski jumping.
Instead, there was snowshoe racing without snow, fat-tire bike races where the slowest rider wins, and “Goggle Waddle,” a cross between blind man’s bluff and ball tag, played while wearing ski goggles.
And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, no shared equipment, and repeated disinfecting were added elements.
Approximately 30 students participated in the mid-March event, with activities being held on Autrey Field and in Honnen Ice Arena. The Winter Glove Tactile Challenge combined outdoor skills with the spirit of the day: Students learned how to tie a variety of knots, then, adding to the challenge, tied them wearing oversized ski gloves — while being timed.
“I haven’t heard students laugh that much in about a year,” says Rachael Abler, assistant director of outdoor education.
And while there were no winners’ podiums or gold medals, there was the awarding of KIND bars and vouchers for rental equipment at the Ahlberg Gear House.
The CC-style Winter Olympics were part of the Snow Day 2021 events, which also included a film festival premiering two hours of outdoor films featuring people of all walks of life in a variety of sports and a video competition. This film festival event was held on Vimeo live so attendees could discuss the films with MCs Katie Damas ’21 and Chidera Ikpeamarom ’22.
The continuing pandemic meant that Snow Day 2021 looked very different than it did in its inaugural year in 2020, in which 75 first-time skiers and 15 outdoor education leaders participated in a day of skiing at Monarch Mountain. “We didn’t want Snow Day to lose the magic of making the outdoors more accessible to everyone,” Abler says. She credits Sofia Moreira Infante ’21 and Cody Leong ’20 with spearheading the initial event, and with helping to keep the initiative going this year, albeit in a different form.
“There was a lot of passion about making — and keeping — the outdoors accessible to everyone,” Abler says.
The Snow Day 2021 events were reflective of the Office of Outdoor Education’s continuing efforts to engage students and build community, especially when the campus community is limited in how they can interact with each other.
“We wanted to develop a mixture of programs,” Abler says. “Programs people could do on their own now, virtually or in-person, and later in-person and in groups. We know that many students, both domestic and international, are feeling isolated.”