Monday, January 24, 2011

Best Colleges for Winter Sports Enthusiasts

An article in today's Daily Utah Chronicle reports that the U has made the list of Best Colleges for Winter Enthusiasts from U.S. News and World Report magazine.

Let's be real.  The University of Utah is hands down the best University/College on the planet for winter sports enthusiasts.   It isn't even close.  Where else in the world can you get a low-cost, world-class education and ski or snowboard some of the best terrain and snow on Earth just minutes from your dorm room?

The start of this backcountry ski tour is 20 minutes
from the U.  Eat your heart out CU-types.

The other schools on the U.S. News and World Report list:
  • University of Colorado-Boulder.  The article touts the "short driving distance" to Vail and Winter Park.  Apparently the author hasn't spent hours sitting in traffic on I-70 during one of Colorado's rare deep powder days.  How rare are those deep powder days?  Berthoud Pass near Winter Park, one of the snowiest locations near Boulder, averages only 4 days per year with at least 10 inches of snow.  Alta averages 18.  The article also mentions that Eldora Mountain is only 30 minutes from campus.  That's great if you want to run slalom gates on frozen granular all day, but if instead you want to ski deep powder, Alta and Snowbird are only 30 minutes from the University of Utah.  As put so well by a fellow meteorologist, the best place to head for skiing in Boulder is east, to the airport, where you can catch a plane to Utah. 
  • Dartmouth College.  The inspiration for Animal House has a lot going for it, but do powder hounds really want to ski in New Hampshire?
  • Middlebury College.  Another great northeast ski school, with the same issues as Dartmouth - eastern snow. 
  • University of Montana. A solid challenger, but the U gets the nod based on academic strength, more snow, more resorts, and more accessible backcountry.
  • Sierra Nevada College.  Sierra Cement vs. the Greatest Snow on Earth.  Hmmmm....
  • Williams College (Mass.).  Massachusetts?  
  • University of Wyoming.  The article claims that it is only "a 2 hour drive from the best slopes in Colorado."  The author hasn't apparently driven in a Wyoming ground blizzard before.  Google maps puts the time to Steamboat at about 2.5 hours and Winter Park at 3.  Come to the U and you can take the bus from campus and be skiing in under an hour.  
Remarkably, Montana State was left off the list.  With Bridger Bowl and Big Sky nearby, and people like Karl Birkeland on the the faculty, this seems like an obvious A-list school for the ski and snowboard crowd.  The University of Washington (my alma mater) was also overlooked, but has access to great lift-served and backcountry skiing, the latter possible year round.  

Where you go to college depends on many factors, and there are good reasons to attend any of the institutions above.  But based on access, snow climate, and academics, the U is a clear standout.  Don't believe me, just ask swoop.


  1. You tell em Jim! I'm still confused how any northeastern schools made the list. You'd think the place that host the WINTER OLYMPICS would be number one for WINTER SPORTS enthusiasts.

  2. I visited SLC as a senior in highschool to go skiing. 5 feet of snow over roughly three days, my first "true" powder skiing experience, avalanches across LCC road, interlodged at the Bird, and some total stranger giving me a tall boy and sharing stories. That experience was enough for me to only apply to one college.


  3. This is bogus. The University of Cincinnati is only 30 miles from Perfect North Slopes. ;-)

  4. hey man you didnt think about colorado mountain college. it has campuses in steamboat, breck, aspen, vail, and dillon, just to name a few. and all those are better resorts than anything utah has to offer. and its cheap.