It's going to be a great winter, judging by the number of skis that freshmen are moving into the dorms at Montana State University.

Robert Putzke, MSU police chief, joked about the predictive value of new students' outdoor gear while taking a break from pushing a handcart full of kids' belongings into high-rise Roskie Hall.

Wednesday was MSU's Move-In Day, when roughly 1,700 students moved into the dorms. Helping to cart their high-definition TVs, mini-fridges, mountain bikes and massive suitcases were hundreds of parents, MSU employees and Bozeman community volunteers.

Like a greeter at Wal-Mart, MSU President Waded Cruzado stood outside Roskie and called out cheery a "Good morning! Welcome!" to students and parents.

"It's a day filled with excitement," said Cruzado, who came in January from New Mexico State University, which also hosts a move-in day. "It's a big day for MSU."

Whether this fall's enrollment will surpass last year's record of 12,764 students won't be known for several weeks. Yet based on this year's record number of applicants, Cruzado said, "I think we have a very good chance of witnessing a very large class."

Kids moving into Roskie came from as far away as Colorado and Connecticut, Alaska and Florida. MSU recruits out-of-staters because they add diversity to the campus, and they pay three times as much tuition as Montana students, thus subsidizing the cost for in-state students.

Andrew Nakas, 18, and his mom, Susan Nakas, drove three days from Weston, Conn. They brought his snowboard, skis, a mountain bike and a road bike.

"I was ecstatic about the skiing, the mountains," Andrew said of MSU, "and they have a good film program.

"The kicker that sold me is you can drive real fast on the highways," he joked. "In Connecticut, it's like 55 everywhere."

Hilary Durham, 18, flew in from Florida with her mother, Sue Durham.

"It's so friendly here," Sue Durham said. "The town, it's so beautiful."

"I feel excited," said Hilary Durham. She picked MSU because it's one of the few places where she can major in paleontology. "It's got a great professor, a beautiful campus. There's tons of dinosaurs to dig."

Spencer Jonas and Carl Smith, two 18-year-olds from Alaska, were standing in line for room keys. Jonas held a bright yellow kayak and said he'd already been climbing in the Tetons and hiking up Ross Pass.

"I'm excited," said Smith, who plans to major in engineering and computer science. "It's nice to kind of get away from everything, but still be in the same environment."

Andrea Breeze from Denver said she picked MSU because of its location and good teacher program.

"I'm finally leaving my parents," Andrea said, smiling at them. "They pushed me out of the nest. They like to dictate my life."

"We're deeply saddened she's leaving," her dad, Steve Bragg, said and laughed. "We're heading out on vacation immediately."

Harry Adams, a retired FBI agent, was lugging a heavy hand cart and two big bags to the elevator.

"I'm from Hope Lutheran - we always have a bunch of volunteers," Adams said. "I just like to help the university, help the kids. It's just a fun thing."

Joe Fedock, MSU's interim provost, also pitched in to move students. Fedock said he had seen lots of 2-by-4s and plywood, which students use to build lofts, plus the "obligatory longboards" and "snowboards by the truckload."

Fedock joked that last year he helped move women students into Hapner Hall and "being the father of three sons, I saw clothing items I didn't know existed."

Joe Schmitt, who came from Colorado to move his 18-year-old son, J.T., said he was impressed by Move-In Day.

"Everybody has been friendly," Schmitt said. "Helpful. Beautiful."

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.