Duke University basketball fans Jill Ciporin and her husband, Dan, will have to miss out on the game they look forward to every year – the one often called the greatest rivalry in sports.
The Ciporins, who live in Greenwich, Conn., are snowed in and won’t be able to make it to the Duke-UNC game in Durham tonight. They haven’t missed this game in the past six years. Their son, Peter, is a Duke sophomore studying computer science, and Jill graduated from Duke in 1984.
The snowstorm that blanketed much of the northeast shut down thousands of flights, including all of the ones Jill tried to book. So, much like their team couldn’t travel to a Chapel Hill game in 2014, these Duke fans won’t be making it because of snow.
“I probably spent 24 hours trying to figure out how to get a flight,” Jill said. “We were supposed to fly in at midday and then found out last night it was canceled. So I started booking more flights and more flights and it just didn’t happen. I kept getting message after message that the flights I was booking were canceled.”
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Duke has more students from out-of-state than UNC does, so many of its graduates and fans have to travel back to North Carolina for the rivalry matches.
“The day the schedule came out I got my hotel reservations for this game,” Jill said. “It really turns into a huge reunion weekend because so many people come down.”
Jill said she had a lot of friends who were headed to the game from California, Arkansas, Texas and other states who were unaffected by the snowstorm.
Unable to be there in person, the Ciporins will host a viewing party tonight, inviting other Duke fans trapped up north.
“The two tickets we were supposed to use, our son is going to use to bring some of his fraternity friends,” she said.
“We’re just going to watch it here with other friends who couldn’t make it. We’ve got about 12 inches of snow on the ground so we’ll be drinking wine and beer and watching the game and rooting for Duke.”
Other than a few friends, most people up north “do not understand this rivalry,” Jill said.
“I was just down for the Pittsburgh game and people up here are like ‘What are you talking about turning around four days later for another game?’” she said. “But they just don’t get it. This is it. This is huge. This is the rivalry.”
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett