Widgets Magazine


Sent From My iPhone: Ski Trip: How to Make it Longer and Stranger

Do your work in the car. Most likely the car assignment is random and you don’t really know anyone else riding in it, and most Stanford kids suck at long car ride conversations anyway. I know that you brought work; you’re a Stanford student, but you’re not going to do it in any significant quantity, not while you’re there. You don’t really want to be that lame. Remember, it’s not just Ski Trip’s job to entertain you. You also have to bring something to the table, because if you care at all about your social circles, then Ski Trip, while predictable, tedious, pointless, unnecessary, classist and disappointing, is all that you have.

First off, despite how your freshman RAs may have sold it, unless you are planning an acid-fueled coke binge for the weekend, it is not Snow Trip. It’s Ski Trip. I understand that this rebranding may be an attempt to disassociate Ski Trip from skiing and all its exclusionary white upper-class trappings, but calling it Snow Trip reinforces everything I hate about California. Even though I’ve never actually skied/boarded on Ski Trip, since having learned to ski in Ohio has made me afraid of anything resembling a real mountain, I still refuse to believe that anyone paid $50 and drove eight hours just to pretend that they’re in the Winter 2011 edition of the Land’s End catalog. It’s just snow, people. It’s really not that exciting. Also, hot tubs are overrated and cause people with body image issues to feel even more insecure.

That said, I do have to hand it to the concept of Ski Trip for making Lake Tahoe egalitarian. I imagine in other, more Kal-like schools, all the rich kids take off for weekends during the winter because, you know, their parents have a little place up in Tahoe, which is really beautiful in the winter, and if you want to see it you have to kiss their asses throughout all of fall. Instead, everyone gets a chance to see what the Tahoe hubbub is all about with only minimal planning involved. In that sense, Ski Trip is unmistakably Stanford: A tradition that tries really hard to be radically inclusive but can’t shake its privileged roots and ends up revealing them by accident.

Because though skiing at Kirkwood (only losers go to Heavenly) is usually not billed as the main attraction, it’s pretty much the only thing to do during the day, and it’s that revelation, which usually comes around 11 a.m., that makes all the non-skiers question why they’re even here in the first place. For the houses/groups that suck, the day usually consists of a series of half-hearted attempts to have fun until night when everyone who brought alcohol can start drinking. If you’re lucky, enough people will want to watch the NFL playoffs.

For Ski Trips where people actually like each other, though, the weekend is a chance to confirm or deny stereotypes, for each group to impose its own vision of an entire weekend of fun without the specter of administrative oversight. Synergy gets naked, frats hold epic Beirut matches for all the Tostitos, Phi Psi brings a killer XBOX 360 set-up, Kairos believes they’ve already done everything interesting, certain unnamed places are taking shrooms, the cool freshman dorms have been drinking all weekend and the Earth Sciences people explore the wilderness and actually know what they’re doing. It’s kind of a pretty accurate snapshot of the various scenes on campus at the pinnacle of their debauchery.

But there’s a dark side to those people’s Ski Trips as well, because now their Ski Trip has the burden of expectations. All of a sudden, Ski Trip is supposed to be the time for that magical bonding that’s supposed to occur, or it’s the perfect time to make a move on that person you’ve been eyeing or for one of those epic college stories that you’ll remember for years to come to happen. You can at the very least assert yourself as one of those cool, hip college students to whom marketers dream about catering. In pretty much all of the items on that check list, Ski Trip usually disappoints, but not always.

If everyone involved brings their partying A-game and is determined to have fun for the weekend then, assuming an adequate supply of alcohol, you just might have a Ski Trip worthy of making T-shirts. However, we’re still at school, and some of you have midterms and stuff coming up, even the people on whom you can usually count to make parties fun. They may think that they can’t spend a weekend away from campus, because they have eight-hour problem sets to do. Oh wait, that’s the length of the car ride. You can do your work in the car.

Was my assessment of your Ski Trip fallacious? E-mail petermc@stanford.edu.

  • cardinal12

    I actually really prefer to call it ‘snow trip’ rather than ‘ski trip.’ It helps to quell that ‘privileged’ feel. Also, snow may not be a big deal to you, but to many students, it is. Remember that a lot of Stanford’s students come from the West Coast and the South, as well as other parts of the world, where snow isn’t abundant or is nonexistent. I remember freshman year, I had a few friends who were so excited because they were seeing snow for the first time in their lives. I think there’s much to be said about viewing the whole trip as a retreat (with or without skiing), a time when you can just have fun in a new environment. That’s why people don’t question why they’re there in the first place–because all their friends are there, and it’d have been boring and lame to stay back at Stanford.

  • Nick

    Hahaha, this is too true. Also true, non-skiing frosh RAs are probably in misery/hell.