USC Ski and Snowboard soars in Red Bull competition

Red Bull is more than just a beverage. For countless athletes, it provides sponsorship and endorsements. The USC Ski and Snowboard team is no stranger to being taken under Red Bull’s wing. In their latest project, the team is competing in Red Bull’s Bracket Reel Competition.

The competition pits eight of the best collegiate candidates against one another for the title of “supreme video.” Each team is required to upload a new video for each of the three rounds. The first video is based on the morning, the second on the afternoon and the third on the night to represent one perfect day of the season. Each video is about three to four minutes in length and depicts the activities of that time of day. So far, the videos have shown each teams’ members performing incredible feats of skill as well as the (more than) occasional wipe out. At the end of the competition, voters will choose winners in the categories of Best Conditions, Best Locations and Most Team Spirit. The winning team receives a triumphant closing weekend at the resort of their choice.

USC’s team is composed of about 120 members with varying skill levels and experience. The team competes in the Southern California Collegiate Snowsports Conference in skiing and snowboarding giant slalom, skiercross, boardercross, slopestyle and halfpipe. The team is the two-time National Champion for overall freestyle skiing in 2009 and 2010.

They enter the competition with a staggering 3.8 million views and a loyal following of 8,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel. They have even attained a sponsorship deal from GoPro.

The other seven teams come from all over the country: University of Utah, Oregon State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, Pennsylvania State University, Loyola Marymount University, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and University of Washington. However, only the University of Washington, Loyola Marymount University and University of Massachusetts, Amherst remain in the competition. Despite the widespread talent, USC Ski and Snowboard President Tyler Karow is confident in USC’s chances.

“Our editor Victoria Stein has been killing it, putting together some top notch videos week after week. After we managed to beat CU Boulder in round one, we knew we had to up our game to compete in the semifinals. We shot our last video at Bear Mountain this past Monday and within a few days, she threw together the perfect video that we need to win,” Karow said.

Aside from USC’s team being hand-selected to compete, the competition itself was created by one of USC’s very own. Robson Morgan, a PhD student studying economics currently in his fifth year at USC, pitched the competition to Red Bull.

“Actually, I think I came up with the idea when I was arguing with my friend Christian Sander about whose school had the best skiers, LMU or USC,” said Morgan.

For the actual pitching of the idea, it helped that Sander was a producer with experience contacts at Red Bull and in pitching projects. The two then pitched the idea to the company, and one year later, they saw their idea become a reality.

The competition goes beyond proving each team can work a camera.

“This competition is truly unique … Bracket Reel is the first time we have ever been able to enter a video competition. Putting out quality video content is huge in the ski and snowboard world, so it’s epic that we have the opportunity to broadcast our team’s image in this way,” Karow said.

Karow also noted that USC stands out because “more than any other team, USC has a wide range of talent. While many of the schools in this competition focus on a select few riders, [USC has] dozens of quality riders with enough skill to be featured.”

The semifinals run through Feb. 28 with the championship round beginning on March 2. Voting takes place on and continues through the final round. As the official competition site says, “It’s all downhill from here.”