Late at night, in the dips and peaks of Ohio’s Mad River Mountain, the snow is freshly groomed and the slopes are open and uncrowded. The 300-foot vertical drop is covered in feather-light powder and for the taking.

“That’s my favorite time,” said Josh Scholten, a Ball State Ski and Snowboard Club member. “You can get away with whatever you want.”

On a normal day of skiing, the freshman actuarial science major said he wakes up at 7:30 a.m. He then gathers his gear — a pair of bright blue ski pants, a swishy black coat, a helmet, gloves and orange reflective snow goggles.

To learn more about the club and events, go on Facebook to see the Ball State Ski and Snowboard Club group page.

“You just pack up as quick as you can,” Scholten said.

Scholten and his friends arrive at the slopes of Mad River Mountain, a ski resort in Ohio, around 11 a.m. and begin skiing. He said his group skis until 3 a.m., only stopping to eat.

Scholten has been skiing since he was 15, and he doesn’t let the season stop him.

In his backyard in Fort Wayne, Ind., he built his saving grace in the summer months. Using 8-foot-tall scaffolding, PVC pipes and artificial turf, he built a set-up to practice his tricks in warm weather.

“You just add dish soap and water it down,” Scholten said. “It’s pretty wild.”

Scholten spent the rest of his summer working and saving money for his winter ski trips. He takes two to three trips per week to the slopes.

Austin Pontius, co-president of the club, has been snowboarding for 12 years. He learned to ski at a young age in Colorado, before he was even allowed to use poles for skiing.

“I was never great at traditional sports,” he said. “But anything on a board, I feel comfortable doing [it].”

Pontius said the level of experience greatly varies in the club, from new beginners to lifelong skiers and boarders.

He plans the club’s trips and tries to make them affordable so college students can get their adrenaline fix on a small budget.

This year, the club plans to go to the No. 1 ski resort rated by Ski Magazine, Jackson Hole. The Wyoming resort offers the largest continuous vertical rise in the country at 4,139 vertical feet.

Pontius said members naturally branch out to other non-traditional sports, such as waterskiing, wakeboarding and rock climbing. He credits nature as part of the reason he keeps “collecting board sport hobbies.”

“You get wrapped up in the atmosphere,” Pontius said.

Bruises from not-quite-landed new tricks are a testament to the sport’s rough nature. He said his worst fall happened when he came up short on the second jump of three and landed on his back. He has been to the hospital for a hematoma after falling four times in the same position on a rail.

“It felt like a wallet in my back pocket, but it was a huge bruise,” Scholten said.

Scholten said his injuries have never deterred him from pursuing a trick.

“It’s worth falling all day when you finally land it,” he said.

For Scholten, skiing is a relief from school pressure. He schedules his classes around those special days when he can skim the slopes until 3 a.m., far from his everyday problems as he sails down the drops, the landscape blurring as his skis glide across the snow at lightning speed.

“On the mountain, I don’t have to worry about anything,” he said.