College sledders ‘bullish’ for Schlittentag

Rowdy college students, an abundance of caffeine and homemade sleds. Saturday’s Red Bull Schlittentag, or “sledding day,” had all the energy and all the crashing you would expect.

Fifteen teams from colleges around Wisconsin — including four from Marquette — were challenged to build a thematic sled on site at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wis.

Sledders raced down an icy hill, flying off a three-foot ramp at the course’s end.

The teams, composed of three competitors each, were judged on spirit, creativity and race results.

As a student brand manager for Red Bull, senior Henry Thomas helped organize the event and spread word around Marquette’s campus.

Thomas, a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he first began publicizing the event during Organization Fest by contacting Greek organizations and club sports teams.

“Red Bull is about creativity, thinking outside the box and being witty,” he said. “That’s what the event is about — celebrating the idea of creative fun.”

Saturday’s event was the first Schlittentag race in Wisconsin and one of just three in the Midwest, Thomas said.

The first place team wins a trip to the Red Bull Air Race in Windsor, Ontario, the second place team wins its weight in Red Bull, and third place wins a $300 bar tab.

One team from Marquette with high hopes was “Tricky Dick in a Box.” The sled, designed to resemble a giant fish tank, was composed largely of wooden planks and plastic wrap. Each rider wore swim trunks and scuba gear, while one donned a Richard Nixon mask.

“We’re here for the bronze. We want that bar tab,” said Andrew Glaser, a senior in the College of Business Administration.

But Glaser’s team recorded the day’s slowest time, crawling down the slope in 1:21. He said his team still managed to have a great time.

“What else are you going to do on a Saturday? Free food, free sledding. It definitely beats doing homework,” he said.

Marquette was also represented by “The Garbage Men,” “Team Thunder Shake and Bake,” and “Team Mary Poppins.” None of the teams managed to grab a podium place.

The winning team, “Trashed Train” from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, featured a sled adorned with empty containers of Keystone Light and Jack Daniels.  Wearing denim overalls and train conductor hats, the three competitors rolled over the finish line in 15 seconds.

“Whenever we have a party, we all say we’re getting on the trashed train. We get derailed and go full speed. We figured we’d do the same thing today,” said Logan Nienhaus, a sophomore at UW-La Crosse.

The team’s success can be credited to hard training, following a strict diet and a daily stretching routine, he joked.

“Magic School Bus,” from University of Wisconsin-Madison claimed second, and “The Legends,” from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee won third — and the illustrious $300 bar tab.

Although he did not race, Marquette student Jake Tarnow made his presence known by blasting an eclectic mix of dance and pop music as the event’s DJ.

“It was a good event with lots of energy,” said Tarnow, a freshman in the College of Communication. “People were enjoying the music and moving their feet. I think it motivated them to keep working.”