Stu­dents can ski and ice fish at Baw Beese Lake (Maggie Hroncich/Collegian)

Feb­ruary can be a dreary time for many — it’s been cold out for nearly half a year and it often seems like the sun will never emerge. But for some stu­dents and faculty, it’s a time of year that is a prime oppor­tunity for outdoor sports and recre­ation. Meet the winter sports enthu­siasts of Hillsdale.

Jason Cim­poner 

Sophomore Jason Cim­poner has ice fished for most of his life. A Min­nesota native, Cim­poner said he is used to cold tem­per­a­tures and frozen lakes.

“My dad and I would always go up by the Canadian border to Red Lake, it’s one of the biggest lakes in Min­nesota and we’d go ice fishing,” Cim­poner said. “When you go up there people have trucks and trailers and there’s thou­sands of people. The ice is about 20 inches thick. So you’re just on the ice and it’s kind of like camping on the ice which is pretty cool. People stay up there for weeks, I don’t usually go for too long because it’s cold, but that’s how I started.” 

Upon moving to Hillsdale, Cim­poner said he wanted to bring his passion for fishing to college with him. He did his own research to find a local lake with trout. 

“I found Bear Lake and saw there were trout there, so I checked it out one day and talked with a few of the locals out there and got a taste for if they caught any­thing,” Cim­poner said. “I went out the next week and I caught two trout so I cooked them up and then ate them.” 

Cim­poner said that although Hillsdale has warmer tem­per­a­tures than his home state, he still has to wear snow pants and three layers of pants under­neath to keep warm on the lake. 

“When I go out I have two miniature 12 inch fishing poles and you’re over a little hole that’s about 6 inches in diameter. You have to be careful on the ice, three inches is the minimum you want to walk on,” Cim­poner said. “There’s a certain tem­per­ature fish bite. When it gets to the low teens or zero degrees fish will usually be pretty dormant. It’s usually when tem­per­a­tures are in the twenties, maybe low thirties that the fish will come up. I relate it to people — when it’s super cold, everybody stays inside, nobody’s really going out for any­thing and then when it gets warmer people start going out and doing errands. That’s kind of how fish are in a way.” 

Cim­poner said the varying tem­per­a­tures this year have made it harder to ice fish, but that he caught fish five out of the six times he went last year. According to Cim­poner, his favorite part of the expe­rience is escaping stress and being outside. 

“I love the nature aspect of fishing in general, espe­cially when I go over to Bear Lake, it’s just you and nature,” he said. “It’s a good time to have relax­ation, soak it all in, and get away from the world.” 

Anna Cannon 

Junior Anna Cannon, who was on a ski retreat at Caberfae Peaks this past weekend, is another student who enjoys winter sports. Cannon said that even though she is from Texas, she skied every year as a child when her family traveled to New Mexico. 

Cannon said she loves the thrill of going down slopes and the stunning views that come with it.

“One of my favorite parts is that you get going so fast, you go down a whole mountain in a matter of minutes,” Cannon said. “It’s fun to expe­rience being just on skis going down a mountain, it’s really fun and exciting. And there’s a beau­tiful view.” 

One of Cannon’s favorite mountain views was in the Alps when she was studying abroad in Europe. 

“I went skiing in the Alps in Austria and that was beau­tiful,” Cannon said. “When you go skiing here there’s a mountain and you go down it and that’s all it is. But in Austria you’re in the Alps, which stretches farther than you can even see.” 

Cannon said she still loves the views in Michigan, and tries to go skiing locally when she can. She has been on inde­pendent ski retreats and on the SAB spon­sored trips to Bit­ter­sweet Ski Resort. Cannon said stu­dents who are looking to get into skiing should go on the SAB trip. 

“Bit­ter­sweet is a great place for beginners, they have a really nice beginners course,” Cannon said. “I would say go there and watch some ski videos just to learn the tech­nique. It really is some­thing where you have to get muscle memory and get the feel for it.” 

Bill Lundberg

For those inter­ested in even more localized skiing, Assistant Pro­fessor of Sports Studies Bill Lundberg rec­om­mends vis­iting the trails at Hayden Park. According to Lundberg, about seven years ago the Hayden Park Club­house was able to invest in skiing equipment after receiving a grant from the Student Federation. 

“I went to an outdoor equipment company called REI and I went and pur­chased and set it up eight sets of skis and 14 pairs of boots to handle dif­ferent kinds of sizing,” Lundberg said. 

Although the lack of lake effect snow in southern Michigan can make skiing dif­ficult at times, Lundberg said there has been enough snow at the park to ski for the past several weeks. Recently, the vol­leyball team spent an afternoon skiing on the trails. 

“We have a 5K, 6K, 8K, and 10K cross country that we’ve designed over the years. We go on a lot of those trails for cross country skiing,” Lundberg said. “It’s not like a lot of places up north where the con­di­tions are just perfect for skiing and there’s a way to groom those trails. Here, it’s just people getting out on the skis and the tracks are made from people skiing often. It’s been good, and a priv­ilege to be able to provide for the stu­dents and staff and families.” 

According to Lundberg, it is refreshing to see the com­munity engage in winter sports at the park. 

“You’ll see fam­ilies come out with their sleds and kids really enjoy being out in the snow. It’s a family-ori­ented and fitness-ori­ented setting where people can enjoy things in dif­ferent seasons.”