Balancing School and Skiing with CBMR Athlete Tucker Vollbrecht
The sound of an alarm clock at 6:30AM comes as a surprise every time. In a sleepy daze it is tough to decipher if the alarm is going off so I wake up for class or get to the mountain on time. As a college student competing in the Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) series, it’s fun to balance the two, although much more fun when I realize the alarm is because snow was forecasted to fall overnight.
Balancing out competitive freeride skiing and academics can be tough at times. My school, Western State Colorado University (WSCU), has provided incredible opportunities throughout my time here. Professors tend to be lenient when it comes to missing classes to attend freeride competitions as I am part of the Mountain Sports Team, but sometimes this comes with a catch. Being excused to go on a trip doesn’t mean exemption from assignments. It’s pretty crazy to watch my fellow student athletes ski all day, be mentally focused during the event, and then come back to the house to do homework before competing again the next morning.
My initial draw to WSCU was their freeride program, but the Crested Butte vibe is what keeps me here. My first day skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) really opened my eyes. It was obvious how tight this community is: everyone knows everyone! As I've become part of this community, not a single day goes by at CBMR when I don’t run into someone I know. What could be better than finishing up a class in the morning, heading up to Crested Butte and running into your best friends on the hill? It’s tough to beat, especially when you can hang out after skiing, grab a bite to eat at Butte 66, and then finish up your studies at your favorite of any number of coffee shops.
Meanwhile, CBMR has provided me with tools to grow as both an athlete and a student. As an athlete, CBMR has made me a much better skier. There is amazing terrain for any skiing or snowboarding ability from beginners to experts. As a big mountain athlete, it's been awesome to explore CBMR's world-famous Extreme Terrain, which pushes me to my limit and enhances my overall ability. It may be hard to believe, but the resort has also made me a better student as it provides motivation to finish my homework too! If I see a storm is rolling in, there's huge incentive to finish my assignments so I can ski when the snow arrives.
Participating in competitive freeride while attending school has been a fun challenge. Understanding and supportive faculty, an ability to mold my school schedule to accommodate training combined with CBMR's unparalleled terrain and tight community provide more opportunities than I could ever ask for. It's made me a more well-rounded person. If you need a place to test your skills, make you a better athlete all while working towards a degree, then look no further than the Gunnison Valley.
Words by Tucker Vollbrecht