Eastern Inter Club Ski League
Haven't skied in the last couple of years? Last couple of decades? Never skied at all? What's your excuse? No money? No time? No skis? Whatever your reasons, we've got an answer. The Eastern Inter-Club Ski League (EICSL), which began in 1950 as a small group of ski clubs, is an organization comprised of approximately 24 clubs and over 1,200 members. Don't let those numbers scare you. Each of the clubs has anywhere from 25 to 150 members and likes to keep things as intimate and family-like as possible. Each individual club has its own elected board of directors and numerous committees to take care of the needs of its members. EICSL binds all clubs together. EICSL' s most important function, according to Art Taddeo, President of EICSL, is "to help clubs communicate and to obtain benefits for a large group such as a race program, social activities and discount tickets." Realize that the lodging at any of the clubs is not designed with the glitzy Ritz-Carlton person in mind. Lodging varies greatly from club to club, but most are designed in bunk-style rooms. Lodging may be a determining factor in which clubs you check out when trying to decide on a club to join. The Ski Bees for example have segregated floors with seven women's bunk rooms on the second floor and seven men's bunk rooms on the third floor. Two bathrooms are shared by the women on the second floor. And two men's bathrooms are shared on the third floor. Club rules such as smoking and quiet hours are instituted. Each club has its own constitution and by-laws which it hands out to its members. Rules on these and other issues are made known and failure to follow these rules may result in exclusion from the club. Since the clubs vary so much and are all within 10 miles of each other it is strongly suggested newcomers visit at least two or three before deciding on one to join. Once a perspective member decides to join a particular club, they are automatically considered a member from year to year assuming dues are paid. They also have the opportunity to join a different club each year if the choose. Once a member, perks like 10% off purchases from certain merchants and restaurants in the North Conway area plus--the important thing-- discounted lift tickets are organized by EICSL. This year's deals included discounted tickets at Mount Cranmore and Wildcat. Because the clubs are centrally located in the Mount Washington Valley mountains like Wildcat, Attitash and Sunday River in Maine are all within an hour from the clubs. Most people decide the night before where they'll be skiing and share rides the next morning. Most clubs have a race team members can join. Team levels range from Snow Plow Division including 3-60 year old beginners to AA and Open Divisions, for skiers who make most of us look like it's our first day on skis. A note of mention is important here for all you young whippersnappers who may picture yourselves winning your division's crown at the end of your first season. Many members of these ski clubs have been skiing for over 40 years and they'll earn your respect right from the first race you see them run. Club teams race against one another about four times per year and some organizations have their own club race once a season. The ultimate ski challenge, though, is left each year to the daring few who hike with skis to the top of Tuckerman's Ravine. For those of you who've heard of it, you know that it means taking your life into your own hands (or feet as the case may be.) For those of you who haven't heard of it, my advice is to live life a bit longer before considering it. For those members who like to ski outside the Mt. Washington Valley, EICSL plans a yearly weeklong trip open to all clubs to predictable destinations like Colorado, Utah and Europe. Weekend trips usually shoot for somewhere a little closer like Stowe or Killington. Again, group discounts usually follow you wherever you go. Another group of 15 from various clubs joined together for a major discount on a Caribbean cruise in the Spring when the skiing was done. Don't think just because they're called ski clubs that's all they do. To be honest, some members have never skied a day in their lives. The night life après ski is an experience like no other. Clubs take turns hosting afternoon socials and after-dinner gatherings at their clubs. This makes for a great opportunity to visit other houses and meet new ski partners. But don't stay out too late...remember you have to get up at 7 am to catch that first lift! Another attraction are all the tempting factory outlet stores you pass on your way up to the clubs. I don't shop much, but once one person in your club gets a bargain the news gets out fast. The word spreads and before the weekend's over the store is mobbed. Summer is great time to come up to your club and hike, bike, and swim. Each year clubs plan either formal or impromptu rafting and canoe trips down the Saco River. Mountain bike trails are everywhere and a few mountains offer lift service to the top for the ultimate downhill mountain bike experience. If you keep your city slicker image up north, the road riding is great too and the N.H. scenery beats the Esplanade's any day. Clubs hold activity weekends on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. There's not much skiing that time of year, so activities usual turn to volleyball, tennis and golf tournaments. Members are kept well informed about upcoming activities via fliers and newsletters mailed to the clubs member list throughout the year. The age-old "grapevine" also serves well since many members are also friends and keep in touch outside the club. It does sound too good to be true and the repeated question is, "Who does all the work to keep the clubs active and running well?" Members are really the only ones to blame for the success of these organizations. Most people pitch in to help wherever needed from writing and publishing newsletters to mopping the floors after a weekend of ski boots clodding back and forth. Elected officers and members of a Board of Directors from each club put in hours of organizational work and are not paid a dime. Some people have probably lived in Massachusetts their whole lives and never heard of EICSL ski clubs. Now that you have, don't waste another winter season without checking out the N.H. ski club scene. It may even make you reconsider that plan to move to Florida.
Incorporated in 1953, The Eastern Inter-Club Ski League (EICSL) promotes recreational skiing and ski racing at the amateur and club level. We are an organization of 24 separate clubs throughout the Mount Washington Valley and Franconia Notch area of New Hampshire. Many of these clubs offer year round sporting and social activities individually and through the league.