In the throes of winter while many people grow fat and hibernate, Hoboken Ski Club members take full advantage of the season and head outdoors to popular destinations like Killington, Vt., Big Sky, Mt., or even Zermatt, Switzerland. But they also plan trips and events in warmer weather. It’s a social club as well as a recreation club.
At a weekly Tuesday night meeting at local pub Willie McBride’s, members talked about what keeps this club going strong after more than 20 years of skiing and socializing.
A welcoming environment
About 20 or so ski enthusiasts gathered on a recent Tuesday night to hear updates on future trips.
“It is a good group of people,” said Hoboken resident Alex Khalemski. He handles membership activities. “Most of my friends were not into [skiing],” Khalemski said, explaining why he joined the group five years ago.
We have a really diverse crowd,” said Maria Carrera, ski club president. A New York resident, she has been an active member of the club for 12 years and has organized a number of ski trips and also plans all of the summer baseball outings.
“I’ve met many wonderful people through this club.” – Maria Carrera
The group fluctuates in size between 300 and 500 members. “We have members as young as 21 that go up until 55,” she said.
Some members, like Howard Stone, have remained loyal to the club since the beginning and continue to stop in and socialize. Stone joined in 1992. The club was founded in 1990 by ski enthusiast Robert “Bob” McDonald, who wanted to share his passion for the sport with other enthusiasts in the area. The first trip took place in 1991.
“It’s the people,” said Stone in regard to what keeps people interested and connected. “The personality of the group hasn’t changed all that much. Bob set the personality of the club. He talks to you for five minutes and it feels like you’ve been a member for years. We are very good at making people feel welcome.”
Scenic and snow-filled destinations
Stone is an advanced skier and has taken up to 20 trips in one season. He said with a hint of jealousy that some members take up to 30 trips. He has fond memories of all the trips, including creating a human slalom down a mountain in Dear Valley, Utah and skiing in powder hip deep snow in Alta, Utah, which is one of his favorite places to visit.
Daniela DiMaggio, a Hoboken resident of 10 years, said that the club provided her a way to travel to places she never would have gone to on her own like Switzerland, France, and Austria.
On average, 40 to 44 people go on each trip.
Carrera said that trips typically sell out after the start of the New Year but the group keeps waiting lists.
The group has members from the tri-state area and beyond including as far away as Tampa, Fla.
Most members are intermediate-level skiers with a smaller number of individuals at the advanced and beginner levels.
“When I came here I never thought I would ski,” said Deepak Chaudhari. He joined the Ski Club having never skied in his life when he arrived in Hoboken in 2006.
“We do encourage members to take lessons and ski with someone with their level,” said Carrera.
“The more you do it, the better you get at it,” said Marcie Press, 36, vice president. A Hoboken resident of 10 years, she joined the club five years ago and took her first trip to Jay Peak, Vt. “I like being outside. There is something about the crisp mountain air. Skiing is relaxing.”
A busy social schedule
“Our mission is to give our membership the best value for their money,” said Carrera. Trips can range between $420 for a weekend to Stratton, Vt. to $2,120 for a weeklong visit overseas to Zermatt, Switzerland.
“We do try and stick to a template for the trips,” said Carrera. She said that while members are flexible to follow their own schedule, trip leaders typically organize an itinerary with social events.
Each trip begins with a pre-trip meeting so people can get to know one another. Some have even discovered love on the slopes. “We’ve had quite a few marriages,” said Carrera. “We just had a couple that got engaged on the New Year’s Eve trip to Quebec.”
“At least 30 couples have met and married through the club,” said Stone.
Beyond skiing, the club organizes mountain biking, hiking, golfing and other outings in the summer. Annual membership is $35. To learn more, visit: http://www.hobokenskiclub.com/index.html.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.