A year ago there was too much snow in the Alps and the Varsity Snowsports Freestyle moved inside to the less glamorous surrounds of Xscape in Castleford. Fast forward 12 months and the story was oddly similar: inclement weather meant that this year the races had to be moved indoors.
Before the main event, the two teams competed in the Ashes to Alps event, a friendly competition for all club members that was named in honour of the new ski trip and its beginnings in the fire at the Sheffield dry ski slope.
The trip to Castleford was as much a social event between two of Varsity’s less partisan teams as a sporting one, and for every person competing in Varsity there was one who wasn’t even taking part in the Ashes to Alps competition.
But when push came to shove the chants began, the facepaint glistened, and finally we had the final trappings of Snowsports Varsity 2017 on our hands.
Uni took the Snowboard point with ease. In a best of three relay contest, Andy Hughes, Sarah Bunting and SU Sports Officer elect Flo Brookes made life easy for Daniels Saakjans to glide in and take victory in the first race, and when Sarah Harris went head over heels for Hallam in the second, the point was Uni’s with a race to spare.
The Ski race was much more of a contest. Hallam took a surprise victory on what was considered the slower of the two parallel runs in the first race as Sebastian Reichetzer missed a gate, but Uni came back strongly.
When Hallam lead skier Alex Greasby knocked over a pole there was already talk of the race being rerun, but it looked like it wouldn’t be necessary as some excellent skiing from George Bradley and Stefan Lloydall put Hallam in the lead. When Uni’s final rider Krzystof Piotrowski came out of the traps he had it all to do, but he hunted down Toby Tarrant like a man possessed and pipped him on the line. But whilst Uni celebrated, the rerun was already being announced by the officials.
In what would be the final race of the evening, Uni took a surprise early lead. Georgie Beer and Kai Haynes comprehensively outskied Greasby and Josh Nimmons, but Hallam’s rapid duo of Bradley and Lloydall hacked chunks off Uni’s lead.
Nonetheless, Uni’s Mihai Centiu looked to cross the line significantly before Lloydall, and it looked a false-start for Hallam as Toby Tarrant left his gate ahead of Piotrowski. Piotrowski endeavoured to repeat his efforts in the void race, but Tarrant beat him in the closest of finishes.
Uni cried foul, but the officials disagreed, and Hallam had a point of their own to take on the bus back to Sheffield.
The University of Sheffield take a 2.5-1.5 win in Snowsports Varsity overall, and lead Varsity 3-2.5 after a half point was confirmed earlier in the afternoon at the Cycling Cross Country.
You can watch Forge Sport’s Facebook Live of all the races here