Everyone loves summer, but what about winter? US college ski teams sure do. Every year college athletes hit the slopes to complete in alpine and Nordic.
There are a number of great colleges across the country that offer stellar ski programs. Some college programs compete at the NCAA level while other schools with ski clubs still offer great opportunities to race.
While it is possible to race at any college that has a ski team, some colleges are better equipped to provide the necessary resources and support for their racers.
Here are the top 10 best US colleges for ski racing:
1. University of Colorado, Boulder
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Nearest Mountain: Eldora Mountain (45 min. from campus)
The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the top ski racing colleges in the country. The school is located in the Rocky Mountains, which provides students with access to some of the best skiing in the world, including their home mountain of Eldora.
When it comes to winter sports, this school knows what they’re doing – they have a long history of success in skiing. The 20 national championships speak for themselves. The school offers not only men’s and women’s ski programs but even has a student-run ski club for those who aren’t interested in being a part of their division 1 ski team.
The school’s ski team is a member of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA), Division I, and competes against other schools in the conference like the University of Utah and the University of Denver. Historically the star studded men’s and women’s teams have had All-Americans and National Skiers of the Year. If you want to ski at the highest level in college, you need to consider the Buffs.
2. University of Denver, Colorado
Location: Denver, Colorado
Nearby Mountain: Winter Park Resort (1.5 hrs from campus)
The University of Denver is another excellent choice for students looking to combine their love of skiing with their studies. The school is located in the Rocky Mountains, providing students with access to some of the best skiing in the world and over 20 large ski resorts all within just a few hours.
The school’s ski team is a member of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) and the most winning school in NCAA division 1 history.
The school offers an exceptional competitive ski program. They also offer a ski club for those who don’t want to compete at the division 1 level but still want to hit the nearby resorts. The club team is not limited to skiers but they are snowboard friendly, too.
To compete at the highest level and against the best ski teams in college, the Pioneer ski team will give you the challenge you are looking for with some amazing coaching to complement it.
3. University of Utah
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Nearby Mountain: Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Solitude (all located within 30 minutes of campus)
The University of Utah is located in the state’s capital and largest city, Salt Lake City. The campus is nestled among the Wasatch Mountains, which are home to some of the world’s best skiing and has been dubbed a ski paradise.
With 7 resorts near the university, athletes have access to some of the some of the most impressive powder in the country.
The school’s ski team is a member of the RMISA, Division I, and has a strong tradition in academics and athletics. The team has won 15 NCAA Championships and produced a long list All-Americans.
To join the team that has won 3 of the last 5 NCAA championships, you’ll have to get onboard of the Ute’s ski team.
4. University of New Hampshire
Location: Durham, New Hampshire
Nearest Mountain: Gunstock (59 minutes from campus), Loon Mountain (1 hour 55 minutes from campus), and Waterville (1 hour and 40 minutes from campus)
The University of New Hampshire is another excellent choice for students who love winter and want to take part in a great ski program. The school is located in the New England region, which means that students have access to some of the best skiing around on the east coast. If an east coast college is on you must have list and you competitively ski then start thinking about UNH.
The University’s successful NCAA Division 1 alpine and Nordic ski teams offer opportunities with both men’s and women’s team. Their 2022 season capped one of their highest team finishes in over 20 years, placing 6th at the NCAA championships in Utah.
Become a Wildcat, get a great education and ski at some top resorts during your college career.
5. University of Vermont
Location: Burlington, Vermont
Nearby Mountain: Stowe Mountain Resort (30 min. from campus) and Kilington Mountain (1.5 hours from campus)
Another east coast University finding it’s way to the list is the University of Vermont is located in the heart of the Green Mountains in Burlington, Vermont. The school has a history behind it, being one of the oldest public universities in New England.
It is also recognized as one of the best schools for students who love skiing. If you’re not a ski enthusiast, you might want to think about applying elsewhere. There is a whole ski culture at the school when winter rolls around.
The school’s ski team is a member of the EISA, Division I, and competes against other schools in the conference. The success has been exceptional in recent years which included taking 2nd place at the NCAA championships in 2022.
The university has both NCAA alpine and Nordic ski team, based out of the Stowe Mountain Resort. They also have a large ski and snowboard club with that is open to skiers of all levels if you can’t make the competitive team. This is also an excellent way for new and incoming students to find a riding partner. Wax your skis and become a Catamount at the University of Vermont.
6. Montana State University
Location: Bozeman, Montana
Nearest Mountain: Big Sky Resort (45 minutes from campus) and Bridger Bowl (25 minutes from campus)
Montana State University is located in the legendary town of Bozeman, Montana. The town is home to a vibrant community and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The city has been ranked as one of the best places to live in the United States.
The university’s ski team is a member of the RMISA, Division I, and competes against other schools in the conference. Training is ideal at MSU with Big Sky being only 45 minutes away and Bridger Bowl only 30 minutes away.
The school offers both Alpine and Nordic skiing. It’s not uncommon to see All -Americans named at MSU and even Olympians to come out of the school. Do you ski slalom, freestyle or giant slalom? If so then the Bobcats have strong race teams with great mountains nearby. Plan for your college career as a Bobcat.
7. University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Nearest Mountain: Granite Peak (1.5 hours from campus)
You might have not thought of the last three schools to make the list but there is a reason they slide into the top 10. The University of Wisconsin, Green Bay is a public university located in the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin. For all the people looking to go to school close to the mid-west but not all the way east, this school is perfect. The university is a great place for students who are looking for a smaller school with a more intimate ski environment. The school has a Nordic ski team that races all across the Midwest during winter season.
The team is part of the The Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA). To specialize in cross-country skiing in college, you don’t need to go all the way out west. Compete and shine in the CCSA by becoming a Phoenix.
8. University of Idaho
Location: Moscow, Idaho
Nearest Mountain: Bald Mountain (1.5 hours from campus) Lookout Pass (2.5 hours from campus) Silver Mountain (4 hours from campus).
The University of Idaho is located in the small town of Moscow, Idaho. The school has a strong tradition dating back over 125 years and is the state’s flagship university. While the school doesn’t have a ski team, the school is home to one of the oldest competitive Apine Ski clubs established in 1937.
The university’s ski club continues to go strong today. The University of Idaho Ski Club is open to anyone, regardless of their level of experience and offers a variety of trips and events throughout the year.
The ski club is part of the Northwest Collegiate Skiing Conference (NCSC) of the United States Collegiate Ski Association, which allows traveling opportunities for their students. Membership to the club is open to anyone, regardless of skiing abilities and encourage anyone who wants to improve their ski abilities to join.
Students have access to three amazing ski resorts nearby: Silver Mountain, Lookout Pass, and Bald Mountain. However, more experienced skiers are encouraged to check out Silver Mountain. If you want to race in college but can’t make some of the most competitive teams then head out to the University of Idaho. You can continue your racing while getting an excellent education at the same time.
9. College of St. Scholastica
Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Nearest Mountain: Spirit Mountain (20 minutes from campus)
College of St. Scholastica is a University located in Duluth, Minnesota, sitting on the edge of Lake Superior. The university is one of the best places to ski in the Midwest, with Spirit Mountain just a short 20 minute drive from campus. The mountain offers 22 downhill trails, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding.
The university itself has a Nordic ski team that competes in the United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA) and supports NCAA, Division III athletics. Coming off a strong 2022 season, the Saints are certainly a Midwest Nordic team to watch in 2023. Get your college race career started with the Saints.
10. Penn State University
Location: State College, Pennsylvania
Nearest Mountain: Tussey Mountain (20 minutes from campus)
Penn State University is a research university located in the town of State College, Pennsylvania. The university is home to a strong ski community with a variety of clubs and intramural sports. They are known for their academics but the school has a terrific ski race team that rounds out our list.
The university ski club (Penn State Alpine Ski Racing Team) competes in the United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA). The team offers a variety of trips and events for students to get involved in throughout the year. It is open to skiers of all levels and encourages anyone who wants to improve their ski abilities to join. This making racing a bit more accessible then the top tier D1 schools.
There are at least 10 ski resorts within a few hours’ drive of State College, Pennsylvania, with some notables being Blue Mountain, Tussey Mountain, Seven Springs, and Hidden Valley.
Scholarships For Students
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) offers a variety of scholarships for students who are passionate about skiing. The organization offers Division I, II, and III skiing scholarships. However, there are very few opportunities to receive a skiing scholarship. It is possible to do so, but it will take considerable effort and dedication. If you grew up skiing and are an absolute standout then you might have a chance. Be sure to contact prospective schools and fill out their recruiting forms well ahead of your freshman year.
One thing to remember is that NCAA full-ride scholarships are available to institutions that are in Divisions I and II. Club teams do not offer scholarships, but they are a great way to reduce the cost of skiing and a great way to make new friends.
The United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA) is another great option for students looking for assistance with tuition and skiing. The organization offers a variety of scholarships and discounts for students who are members of the USCSA. Requirements can be found on their website to determine eligibility.
Whether you are looking for a place to learn how to ski, improve your abilities, or compete at a high level, there is a college for you. These 10 schools have some of the best ski teams in the country. While some are D1 one schools others offer club racing that is open to everyone. There is a mix between alpine and Nordic so depending on your discipline, you’ll be able to find a prospective school.
There are a few things you can do in order to maximize your winter experience as well. Apart from the slopes, these schools offer some of the best winter activities around. Some areas may have a lot more activities and events for non-competing skiers like as programs for students to participate in.
There are also a variety of scholarships available to help offset the cost of tuition.
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your college ski racing career!
Alec Wilson writes for Proper Peaks and lives near Claremont, VT. He hardly misses a weekend on the ski slopes in the winter. If there is snow, Alec’s skis are on for a go. Look out for his stickered-up helmet and you might just meet him on the trails.