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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

A low-snow J-Term: How students have entertained themselves

View from the top of the snowbowl
View from the top of the snowbowl

J-Term is typically a time when students enjoy a more relaxed class schedule and a little more free time to enjoy Vermont’s winter activities, like skiing. But this January has lacked Vermont’s typical snowfall, making many of those activities that students look forward to difficult. 

But despite the lack of snow on campus, many students have still been heading to the Snow Bowl and taking advantage of the man-made snow. Mike Hussey, manager of the Snow Bowl, reported that one hundred percent of their snow-making terrain is open and that J-term ski lessons are full.

“The one thing that's always hard for us up at the ski area to translate down to the valley is that it’s only brown in town. If people aren’t looking at the webcam or checking the snow report they just assume that the skiing is bad, or that there's no snow,” Hussey said. “But we've actually enjoyed some very good skiing terrain. The snow conditions and surfaces have been super all winter long, so we’ve been lucky with that.” 

Meredith Hespe ’23 said that while the skiing has not been the best in principle, she has still enjoyed getting out there, and the company has been great. Gracie Mumford ’25 agreed, saying that this ski season has been about adapting, by focusing more on the social aspects of skiing than the snow conditions or terrain. Allie Battista ’23.5 said that she has “enjoyed getting in touch with the roots of the icy east coast.”

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Many students have adapted by branching out and trying new activities. Piper Ackerman ’23.5 got creative and made a J-Term bucket list full of activities that don’t require snow. She has expanded her winter outdoor activities to include things like biking and hiking as well. Meredith Hespe ’23 said that in addition to skiing, she has been enjoying other activities.

“My friends and I have found different ways to entertain ourselves by exploring what Middlebury has to offer other than skiing, like playing squash, rock climbing and playing board games,” said Bridget Ulian ’23, another avid skier who has been embracing new opportunities this J-Term. 

Constance Gooding ‘23 said that she has been enjoying spending quality time with her friends the most, although she misses how pretty the campus looks covered in snow.   

“I’ve been trying to spend a lot of time outside with friends, taking advantage of the little snow we’ve had to ski at Rikert or going for runs when I can’t make it up there. I’ve also been spending a lot of time in the architecture studio for my J-Term class which is surprisingly a lot of fun and doesn’t really feel like work,” Annika Milliman ’25.5 said. “I’ve also been going to Quaker Club and staying busy being a MiddSafe advocate!” 

While students have enjoyed taking advantage of the opportunity to explore other activities, the recent snowfall served as a reminder that Middlebury students are as enthusiastic as ever about winter activities. Skiers hit the slopes at the Snow Bowl, Sugarbush and Rikert this weekend with renewed energy, and there is a shared sentiment across campus, among skiers and non-skiers alike, that J-Term feels much better with a little snow on the ground.