“The ski swap normally raises about half of our operating budget,” Teague said. “This year, this soiree is to raise the majority of our operating budget.”
Teague said budget cuts at the university have caused the athletic department to lose more than 32 percent of its funding. He said the team's operating costs include transportation to races, equipment maintenance, coaching staff and scholarships.
Teague said the ski team hopes the good deals will bring out people looking for new ski and snowboard gear. The swap will be held today through Sunday at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
“We actually expect a larger than normal turnout,” Teague said. “The economy was down last year and we had a good turnout. The economy is recovering but it’s not back yet.”
Bargain shoppers can help the ski team raise money to afford this season’s operating cost, but Teague expressed concern for the future of the team beyond this year.
“It’s planned to drop the program next year,” Teague said with regret. “We’re the only (winter) Olympic sport at the university.”
Teaugue said the team has 21 athletes this year who are in danger of losing scholarships -- as well as losing the opportunity to ski in a world-class environment -- if the program is cut. He added the team has lost a number of recruits because of the budget cuts and had to take back some offer letters to athletes, as well.
“Some still came,” Teague said of the athletes who were offered letters to join the UNR ski team. “One recruit said one year in Reno is better than Alaska.”
In addition to losing talented athletes to other programs, two coaches and two assistant coaches would be without jobs.
“The athletes are understandably frustrated with the decision,” Teague said. “It has motivated the athletes that we have. Part of that is pride. They want to show their university and the community they’re great athletes.”
Teague said some skiers are pushing themselves hard this season because if the program is dropped those athletes might try to look for other university ski teams and scholarship opportunities.
“Unfortunately, we’re the only program west of Utah,” said Teague, who grew up in Aspen, Colo. and skied at the University of Denver. “To see the only NCAA opportunity for these athletes disappear in this community is going to be hard.”
This winter marks the 50th anniversary of the Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley U.S.A, Teague said, adding that Reno is still hoping to bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Cross-county skier Gus Johnson, from Salt Lake City, Utah, and Alpine skier Shane Collins from Truckee, Calif. said they hope the ski swap has a large turnout to support the team.
“For me, I came as a transfer student,” Johnson said. “I was at the University of Utah and wasn’t skiing.”
Johnson said it is his second year on UNR’s ski team. Having been skiing since he was 4 years old, he has been on the slopes for about 14 years.
“I grew up at the ski resorts,” Johnson said with a smile. “Ski lessons were like daycare for me.”
Collins said he was skiing with his dad before he ever put on a pair of skis.
“The first time I went skiing, I was in a backpack,” Collins said. “My dad would put me in a backpack on his back and go skiing."
Collins said both his parents skied for the University of New Mexico.
“I’ve been skiing since I was 2 or 3 years old, so about 20 years,” Collins added.
Both Johnson, an English major, and Collins, a health science major, said they were not sure of their future in skiing if the UNR ski team is cut from the athletic department. Both athletes said they are close to graduating and it might not be worth it to transfer to other schools so late in their education.
“It depends how far along we are in school,” Johnson said. “Those people that are really fast and have scholarships can probably transfer. I will probably stay at UNR.”
“UNR had one of the best scholarship offers I received,” Collins said. “Skiing in Tahoe is always a passion of mine. If the program were cut, I’d stay at UNR. I only have one year left regardless. I’d just work and probably ski coach in the area.”
The UNR ski team encourages the community to come out to the ski and snowboard swap for good deals and to support the sport.
“I think this event is really helpful to us because we get to reach out to the people who are interested in the sport,” Collins said. “Hopefully with the ski swap we can also raise some money.”
Johnson said he hopes people come to the swap to support the ski team.
“If they think skiing is important to Nevada, come out and support us,” Johnson said.
Teague said he believes the ski swap has been such a successful event because of the good deals and the volunteers from the Reno Ski and Recreation Club.
“The best deals are usually here first. That is why we charge more on Friday,” Teague said. “But there are good deals all weekend.
“There will be people here to help people find the appropriate board or skis,” Teague added.
The ski swap will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children 6-12 years old. Early birds can get in for $25 at 5 p.m. On Saturday the swap is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission those two days is $7 for adults and $4 for children. People can bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Northern Nevada Food Bank and save $2 on their entrance fee.
Parking for the ski swap at the Reno Livestock Events Center will be free this year. The events center is located at 1350 N. Wells Ave. in Reno.
For events and to donate to the ski team, visit the UNR ski team’s blog at keepnevadaskiing.blogspot.com.
There is a battle of the bands Friday night at the Little Waldorf Saloon to support the ski team, as well as the Scotch and Ski Kick-Off Party at Ceol Irish Pub on Nov. 21. People can also contact Scott Turek at 682-6973 or firstname.lastname@example.org to donate directly to the UNR ski team.
For addition information about the ski swap, visit www.unrskiswap.com.