The word of the weekend as Mark Lewis-Taylor, the 14th best skier on the mountain that is Hillend in Edinburgh, so finely and often puts it, is banter. Home to the largest dry slope competition in the world and some of the finest dry slope riders you will ever see, BUDS or the British University Dry Slope competition is where it’s at for one weekend a year. If you have an appreciation for snow sports and a tendency for fun, then this is the weekend for you. There are a lot of things about our time in Edinburgh that shall remain secret as I’ve been told to keep this P.C. but more information on Chris’s tragic sharking efforts can found and followed over on twitter.
The drive up takes a long time, about nine hours with multiple stops for Krispy Kreme’s and burgers. A food stop at Morrisons sees some interesting and optimistic receipts come to print. Potentially a long coach journey is enough to put people off on paper, but it proves to be half the fun with bus games galore and a suitable amount of ‘alone time’ so as not to get to annoyed with any idiocy (sorry guys) and all things Australian.
We roll in to the hostel and it’s actually alright (I’m not sure what I was expecting but this is great). It’s in the perfect location for BUDS nights out and general Edinburgh touristness, although there is no spare time for any exploring. The dinners are group efforts with Thursday’s pasta hands down beating Friday’s awful effort at a bolognese.
Our first night out is at the insane Three Sisters Bar and is followed by two consecutive nights at City nightclub, literally around the corner from our beds, with sets from The Cuban Brothers on Friday and Jaguar Skills on Saturday at the BUDS ball. I won’t make you jealous with the details but these are some of the best nights out you will have whilst at university provided you aren’t left behind or alternatively, get lost and end up in another club with randomers from universities you’ve never heard of that you met in the light of day (not that any of these things happened of course).
Despite not actually being signed off and only having spent a week on snow on last years ski trip, I’m on the snowboarding team, entered for the slalom. I don’t get off to the best of starts at this point and it doesn’t exactly improve as I struggle to use the lift and after repeated falls, favour dragging myself up the slope, hire board by my side.
I make it to the top and formulate a plan for my practice run. Essentially, don’t die. The details of said plan extending to; attach bindings, get on box, ride off box without falling, turn round red poles on the right, blue poles on the left, make it through timer. Relax. In reality it’s not quite as simple. I trash myself on the way down, failing all attempts at turns and bruising my knees to a shade of impressive purple. In the end, I settle for a few attempts at falling leaf (my favourite). Competition time. I drag myself back up and sit with my fellow teammates. Trying to psych myself up for the challenge ahead of me.
I scoot on over to the other competitors. The atmosphere is friendly with most people expressing how happy they are at the number of girls entered compared to previous years. My aim is now to simply make it down the course without getting eliminated whilst keeping falling to a minimum. If I feel comfortable I might even try pull off a few turns. I’m up on the box and I slide off, an achievement in itself. Painfully riding round the poles, I try attempt a few turns before chickening out as I realise I’ve set them up wrong and would stack it if I dare.
By the time I get to the bottom I begin to hear loud shouts of encouragement from up the slope, sound tracking my hop around the last pole and through the timer. I make it through to a huge cheer, the biggest of the day so far (I like to think so anyway). I made it down in 1 minutes and 39 seconds, an impressive six times as slow as the winning time, but I feel pumped regardless. I don’t even come last, with two competitors disqualified and a few no shows.
Overall our time at the slope is pretty much spent as you’d imagine, rather cold but with a great view of Edinburgh, surrounded by drunk spectators in sombreros and ponchos. There are a million other people in the exact same hoody as you from the Syndicate bargain bin and there’s a bubble of great atmosphere with DJs and alcohol.
On Saturday our ski team make it to the quarter-finals and achieve another high individual placing in the ski grand slalom. The BUDS big air competition, which our very own president, Mary Leishman, won last year is super sweet and the atmosphere and tricks are amazing, making it a definite weekend highlight. There are double back flips and a new world record for longest train with people pulling off everything from front flips to screw 7s. Honestly, in-cred-ible.
When we leave on Sunday morning, I’m left feeling like we didn’t quite try hard enough as we are greeted by Manchester students still in suits from the BUDS Ball and yet to go to bed. The effort doesn’t quite end until we go our separate ways once back on campus however, as the journey home sees the beginning of Snow’s very own diverse library collection. With ‘volunteers’ reading a story from a top shelf magazine with both maximum effort and expression, it makes for some peachy reading and hilarious listening to say the least.
The mornings are early and the days are long and cold, the nights out late and the sleep short, but BUDS is an amazing weekend regardless of your skill level, thanks for a lovely game.
Written By Scarlet Prentice