Winter Carnival wows students with range of activities

Since it was first organized by a group of students in February of 1915, Winter Study has developed into one of the most hotly anticpiated events of the winter months at Williams. Throughout its 89 years, Carnival planning has been a student-driven effort, this year coordinated by Keith Olsen ’04 and Molly Stone ’03.

The Carnival began with a snow-dance on Tuesday, which Olsen hopes will become an annual event. “We all went out on Baxter Lawn in a big circle and danced for about a minute. Guess what, the next morning there was new snow,” he said.

Scheduled programs continued on Wednesday with a winter film festival, hosted by the Williams Outing Club (WOC). Both student and professional movies were shown, on topics ranging from sledding to Nordic and professional skiing.

On Thursday afternoon, the Citizens’ Nordic Race inspired 11 people to hit the trails. Unlike the snow-dance and film festival, however, the Citizens’ Race has not occurred in recent years due to a lack of snow. Thursday evening’s festivities featured a contradance, comedian Daniel Tosh and the habitual celebration at the Log.

On Friday and Saturday, the Williams alpine and Nordic ski teams competed against athletes from the University of Vermont, the University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth, Middlebury, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, Harvard, St. Lawrence University and St. Michael’s College. Despite extreme cold and wind on the mountains, the races went well.

Students volunteered as gate-keepers and timers at the races, including Elissa Klein ’06. “I timed alpine ski races on Saturday, which was a new and interesting experience,” she said, “for the first half hour. Standing out on a mountain in 6-degree weather all day pressing ‘stop’ and ‘start’ got old pretty quickly, but it was good to get out and see our skiers. 

“For such a small school, we placed very well, and the men and women both really impressed me.  It made me want to get out more and get good at skiing, even with the below-zero weather.”

A significant number of students also came out to Prospect Mountain and Jiminy Peak as spectators. Joel Bradley ’06, a member of the Nordic ski team, was shocked at the number of people who willingly froze this weekend in order to support a Williams team that is so frequently removed in its activities from the rest of campus life all year.

“Nordic skiing is not exactly the epic ‘spectator’ sport,” he said, “but the fact that people cared enough to come watch something into which we channel a significant portion of our lives was no less than touching.  It was so rare to feel that quantity of attention, and to see so many faces out of context; I’ve never felt so at home on a ‘home course.’”

There were also special programs on campus on Friday afternoon. Olsen, Stone and the Outing Club organized the “Winter Fun for Everyone” events, which included traditions revived from past Carnivals: a snowshoe sprint, the tricycle and human dogsled races, a snow-sculpture contest and snow volleyball. Teams were judged both on their performance and on the quality of their costumes.

The competition came down to the three teams of Sage F, Woodbridge House, and Team “Xtreme Blue,” which represented an off-campus house. Admirably representing the Frosh Quad, Sage F won the snow-sculpture contest with their depiction of a living room, entitled “Fire and Ice.” Competing against about 50 people, the Woodbridge team won the tricycle race on the Frosh Quad. Outing Club president Malin Pinsky ’03 said, “It’s great to see so much energy and enthusiasm, and much more than in past years. Little details like finding tricycles that won’t break can be worked out better for next year.”

In a show of extreme strength and endurance, Xtreme Blue won both the human dogsled and snowshoe races. Team members also got into the Carnival spirit with their costumes; one wore a burlap sack and not much else, and others wore solely boxers or long underwear. The winning team of each event received a Ben & Jerry’s Vermonster, and Xtreme Blue, in first place overall, won a custom-made trophy with a cow on top.

The official opening ceremony occurred Friday night with skits performed by the men’s and women’s alpine and Nordic ski teams. President Schapiro oversaw the ceremony, with the skit winners determined by the amount of audience applause each team received. The men’s alpine team won by satirizing different types of skiers and their interactions, with portrayals ranging from the violent to the racy to the poignantly sublime. Well, not the last one.

The ceremony also included a capella performances by the Accidentals, Good Question, Ephoria and the Ephlats; “Electricity: Original Poppin’” performed by the Poppers at Williams; a guitar-and-voice duet by Caitlin Canty ’04 and Peter Endres ’04 and the throwing of the ceremonial ski by President Shapiro to the ski team captains. Teams from St. Lawrence, Colby and Middlebury attended the opening ceremony, which was followed by the annual fireworks display on Weston Field. Friday night festivities continued with the semi-formal Ruby Lounge at Dodd House, hosted by the Black Student Union, and other house parties.

On Saturday, the ski teams hosted a stoplight-themed party where party-goers’ dress signaled their plans for members of the opposite sex. Enough students braved the cold that a long line was formed outside Wood House after fire capacity was reached. Student bands One Blue Link and Papa’s Delicate Condition performed at Garfield and Spencer to enthusiastic crowds. Perry House hosted a late-night rave party, a new experience for many Williams students.

“Winter Carnival was a huge success from my point of view,” Pinsky said. “More people than I’d seen in past years were out, having fun and enjoying themselves. We also had a large number of people helping out this year to make everything run smoothly, and I think that’s a huge success.”

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