VT Snow Freestyle Team is bringing winter back to Virginia Tech with SnowJam 2012. On March 15, the student organization will pile more than 30 tons of snow onto the Drillfield to host a snowboarding and skiing performance event.

“We're really excited this event is becoming a reality after months of hard work,” said Nick Gagianas from Pittsburgh, Pa., a senior majoring in marketing in Pamplin College of Business. Gagianas is the marketing manager for VT Snow.

Skiers and snowboarders from six colleges and universities will showcase their skills on a freestyle arena constructed specifically for the event in the middle of the Drillfield. The event is free of charge and open to the public. SnowJam 2012 is expected to draw thousands of spectators, according to Gagianas.

“We've always thrown smaller rail jams off campus, but we really wanted to bring the talent we have on the Virginia Tech campus into the spotlight this year,” Gagianas said.

In addition to watching skiers and snowboarders perform stunts, the audience can network with nonprofit organizations. VT Snow is giving free space to the National Wildlife Federation and Actively Caring for People to promote their causes. Relay for Life will also have booth space, and will sign up teams and individuals for their event April 20, 2012.

“Our vision of the SnowJam is not only to showcase our talent and advertise our group, but to spread the word about causes that exemplify our team’s core values,” said Nate Slemp of Sugar Grove, Va., a junior majoring in wood science and forest products in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. Slemp is president of VT Snow.

VT Snow worked with Galvanic Design to bring in a “rail jam” in which more than 30 tons of snow will cover a freestyle arena. Galvanic Design hosts the Campus Rail Jam Tour to bring arenas to campuses nationwide. Individuals can enter the event by filling out a Campus Rail Jam Tour application. To be eligible, riders must complete the form and send in photos and videos that convey their skill level. Gagianas stressed that the event is just as much about safety as is about fun and getting talented performers.

As of March 1, there were more than 80 applicants. The group expects to allow about 40 skiers and snowboarders to perform. Students from Collegiate Freestyle Alliance schools will be performing. This includes riders from Virginia Tech, Liberty University, University of Maryland, North Carolina State University, Radford University, and Duke University.

“As you can imagine, this project is quite an undertaking,” Slemp said. “Roughly 15 VT Snow members have been envisioning and working toward this event for over a year, and over a dozen departments had to give their approval for us to go forward with our plans.”

VT Snow began playing with the idea of this event in March, 2011, and started to take action in June. By August the team was having weekly meetings to ensure they were on track. After four months of persistence, the group had everything approved by the university and began to look for co-sponsors. VT Snow worked with the Virginia Tech event planning office to guarantee they followed the necessary guidelines and policies to make SnowJam 2012 a success.

“Paperwork. Presentations. We did it all to convey the potential of this event to [Virginia] Tech,” Gagianas said. “We came in thinking it was going to be a huge challenge getting the event approved. We weren't wrong. It was a ton of work, but coming in with those expectations made us do things right the first time.”

Since their start three years ago, VT Snow has been continually trying to promote and help riders who want to sharpen their skills. The student organization has grown into a team of more than 70 riders who train year round and contend in collegiate level competitions. This will be their first major event on campus.



Written by Lauren Marshall from Marshall, Va., a senior majoring in communication and human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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