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Mountain Sports at Western: A student’s perspective on what makes it so great

Bria Rickert skis on a lightweight touring setup at a ski resort in the mountains.

Western’s Mountain Sports program is a unique collegiate athletics program with competitive teams in Nordic skiing, alpine skiing, ski mountaineering, freeride ski and snowboarding, rock climbing, trail running, and mountain biking. Meet multi-sport athlete, Bria Rickert. Bria has found success on the collegiate nationals podium in Nordic skiing, runs on the trail running team, and now has her sights on Olympic-level goals in ski mountaineering. Bria is studying elementary education, earning a Master’s in teaching leadership and a minor in psychology. Outside of athletics, Bria is most proud of holding a 4.0 GPA and learning to step outside of her comfort zone. She reflects that Western helps her learn to trust herself more and believe in the goodness of feeling uncomfortable sometimes. She’s learned to take more risks, which has paid off in academics, personally, and in athletics. 

When asked about her experience as a Mountain Sports athlete, Bria replies: 

“When I came to Western at the start of my sophomore year I was on the Nordic team as that was what I wanted to pursue at the time and where I was comfortable. The 2021/2022 Nordic season was incredible, and I realized how amazing the Mountain Sports program is, and I wanted to be a part the program in more ways than just one sport. I grew up trail running with my parents and knew how much I enjoyed it, so in the fall of 2022 I joined the trail running team, providing me with so many new opportunities. Trail season began ending, and I was in transition to Nordic season, feeling the want for something more again. I wanted a change. I had been Nordic skiing since age four and I wanted to change it up, so I joined the Ski Mountaineering team, and I am so thankful I made the switch. I always knew I wanted to be a part of college athletics, but I didn’t want the pressure of an NCAA program but also wanted more structure than a club sport so once I started looking into the Mountain Sports program more, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.  I was drawn to Western in general because of the surrounding mountains and actives the Gunnison Valley has to offer. Western also stood out to me because of the exceptional Education program and offering the 3+2 program as well as the small class sizes.”

Bria Rickert competes in a Nordic ski race.

Want to know more about how alumni can be involved in Mountain Sports student-athlete experiences? Reach out to Asst. Director of Campus Recreation and Director of Mountain Sports Kevin Geisen.

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