Ride Club Freeride

May 15, 2017 – Club Freeride, a ski and snowboard organization at the University of Denver, wins the “Red Bull Bracket Reel Snow” challenge, a competition of the best skiing and snowboarding videos between teams of college students nationwide.

Despite the victory, Club Freeride, a first-year club that was founded August 2016, is still facing the heavier challenge of gaining traction as a well-known organization at DU. Romi Kristl, co-founder of Club Freeride, understands the lack of school publicity due to the organization’s lacking amount of members.

“Currently right now Club Freeride has about 50 members, but we’re hoping to expand to 60 or 70 next year, ” Kristl says. “We have a solid group of ten members who are dedicated to competing every year.”

The lack of recognition does not inhibit the spirit of the members. They are willing to discuss what the club entails, why it is important to them, and their experiences of participating in and winning the “Red Bull Bracket Reel Snow” challenge.

Club Freeride

The club is more than a university organization, as Kristl explains, but more of a community for advanced snowboarders and skiers who can feel comfortable around like-minded people. The team participates in Freeride competitions, but there is an emphasis on making friends along the way.

Jack Hessler, co-founder of the organization, sheds light on the community aspect of Club Freeride, and what he perceives as the true goal of the club.

“Our main focus is really providing an outlet for kids that want to continue to pursue a career or anything in the ski and snowboard world while going to college,” Hessler says.

Leaders of the organization understand the importance of creating a welcoming and helpful atmosphere for those who are either a part of the team or curious to join. They strive to allow students to have fun while expanding their talent and knowledge of the sports, all the while attending and thriving in school. Still, such leaders hold onto their reasoning for contributing so much time and effort into the club.

Jack snapshot 4

Jack Hessler, snowboarder, Club Freeride co-founder

“Freeride is important to me because it helps me foster a community of good skiers and snowboarders,” Kristl says. “And it also gives me a legacy to leave behind.”

Hessler finds peace within the community aspect of Club Freeride as well, and cherishes being around others that have the same passion and enjoy doing the same things as he does.

Red Bull Contest

The video challenge put on by Red Bull was an opportunity that members of Club Freeride realized could put them on the map. Red Bull hosts a bracket-reel competition for individual action sports every year. This particular challenge consisted of college students battling to film and edit snowboard and ski videos better than their weekly opponent. Throughout the winter, the teams faced different schools each week, had three days to film and edit a video, post it, and wait for the public to vote. The winner of each week moved on to the next round.

“We would find out on Thursday nights if we made it or not,” Jill Thomas, co-founder of Club Freeride, says. “Then scramble to film a new video Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”

Jill snapshot

Jill Thomas, skier, Club Freeride co-founder

After a mediocre video, as Hessler describes it, and nervous waiting as they were losing for most of the voting period, Club Freeride won the first round against UC Santa-Barbara by a mere 53 votes. The victory had only encouraged the members to believe that they could win the challenge.

Club Freeride dominated the next two rounds before meeting Montana State University in the final round. To make matters worse, the round took place during the finals period of DU, but that did not stop Club Freeride from winning the “Red Bull Bracket Reel Snow” challenge.

Kristl recounts the process of filming and editing a video within a three-day period as challenging, especially when members of the team are attending school and trying to pass classes while publishing a worthy and professional video. The experience was much more than a contest, though.

“It wasn’t only a competition that we were involved in,” says Kristl. “It was also growing the brand of Club Freeride along the way which is super unique.”

Club Freeride is one of the many clubs at the University of Denver that acts as a sanctuary for those with common interests. The team could not have asked for a better first year as an organization, and winning the “Red Bull Bracket Reel Snow” challenge put this passionate group of snow-lovers on the map.

“We definitely found our place in the university,” Kristl says. “I think we’ll be here for a while.”


DU Freeride Bracket Reel

Round One – DU Freeride vs. UCSB Snow Team – DU Freeride wins (53 votes)

Quarterfinals – DU Freeride vs. Oregon State University – DU Freeride wins (504 votes)

Semifinals – DU Freeride vs. Liberty University – DU Freeride wins (99 votes)

Final Round – DU Freeride vs. Montana State University – DU Freeride wins (11 votes)


Visit the DU Clubs & Organizations web-page to learn more about joining Club Freeride.

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