Skiing teams win Dartmouth Carnival for first time since 2010
Kelly Moore '18 placed seventh in the giant slalom competition of the Dartmouth Carnival on Friday.
With high spirits, loud crowds and several mops of green and pink hair, the Big Green ski teams won the Dartmouth Carnival for the first time since 2010.
For the alpine skiers, the carnival was a return to familiar territory and a chance to make up for a disappointing outing at the skiway last season, when the University of Vermont won the men’s and women’s slalom on the second day en route to a come-from-behind overall win — Dartmouth’s only loss of the season. On the Nordic side, it was the first time in seven years that the carnival races could be held at Dartmouth’s Oak Hill course.
The racing was the culmination of a week’s worth of hype for the Dartmouth skiers. Tradition dictates that the first-years on the Nordic team don carnival hairstyles: green mohawks for the men and neon pink dye for the women. On Thursday, the teams did their pre-race ski in flair. Several athletes on the men’s side sported ski team intramural hockey jerseys, said men’s Nordic skier Adam Glueck ’21, while Jan Ketterson ’17 skied in business casual attire.
“The vibe is pretty crazy,” alpine skier Tanguy Nef ’20 said. Because the skiers are so focused on performing as a team at a single competition, “one could compare it to the vibe you get at [the NCAA Championships].”
Dartmouth’s alpine skiers don’t have the same carnival traditions as Nordic skiers, according to Nef. But the pressure of racing a home carnival can be equally intense. A small alpine tradition for the skiers is to hit their hand against a panel emblazoned with the words “Dartmouth skiing” and the ski team’s snowflake insignia in the start house during a home race.
“It’s a Dartmouth skiing thing,” said Nef, adding that he had not known about the tradition until he saw Thomas Woolson ’17’s example. “Just seeing that I thought, ‘Oh wow, this is a big deal.’ It almost sounded intimidating — this is our place, and we set the rules here.”
The men’s Nordic team led off Friday’s racing with the 10-kilometer classic. Skiing on a course made firm by temperatures around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the Big Green took third, fifth and 11th. Luke Brown ’18 battled to the finish with eventual winner Peter Holmes of the University of New Hampshire, who started a bib behind the Dartmouth senior. Brown finished the day on the bottom step of the podium, with Callan DeLine ’18 less than 10 seconds behind in fifth and Gavin McEwen ’19 finishing as the third Dartmouth scorer.
The Dartmouth men were the top team in the classic, their first win this season on classic skis with kick wax.
“This is something we’ve been targeting all year, to improve the classic skiing, and to do it at home with a team effort on that 10K course was really cool,” men’s Nordic head coach Brayton Osgood said.
Hitting the course after the men’s race, the Big Green women made waves by taking four out of the top five positions in the 10-kilometer freestyle. Katharine Ogden ’21 came across in first, dethroning UVM’s Alayna Sonnesyn, who had won all five previous races this season. Ogden, skiing with electric-pink hair, finished nearly 40 seconds ahead of Lauren Jortberg ’20 in second and edged Sonnesyn by a full minute. Taryn Hunt-Smith ’19 added points for the Big Green in fourth, with Emily Hyde ’19 behind her.
Finally recovered from an illness which limited her performance in the first half of the season, Ogden said she is now racing on all cylinders.
“I was really excited for the weekend, and I just went out as hard as I could and hoped for the best,” she said. “That’s not usually the best pacing strategy, but it ended up working out.”
Meanwhile, the Dartmouth men dominated the giant slalom at Holt’s Ledge. Nef put himself back in the hunt for the giant slalom leader bib, posting the top time on both runs. Brian McLaughlin ’18 was just over a half-second back in second place, and David Domonoske ’20 had a strong second run to cement a fifth-place finish, his second in as many weeks. Woolson was a spot behind Domonoske, while James Ferri ’19, making his carnival debut after missing time due to injury in his first two seasons, skied into seventh place from bib 36 — an impressive show of Dartmouth’s depth.
On the women’s side, despite a first-place performance from Foreste Peterson ’18, Dartmouth came two points short of the giant slalom team win. Peterson defended her position as the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association’s giant slalom leader by .35 seconds. Claire Thomas ’21 finished in fourth, while Kelly Moore ’18 and Alexa Dlouhy ’19 placed seventh and eighth, respectively. Catamount skiers took the bottom two steps of the podium to steal the team win.
The well-groomed track at the skiway was no accident. Men’s alpine head coach Peter Dodge credited skiway personnel, who worked for hours on Wednesday morning to remove the foot of snow that had just fallen, exposing the icy surface that is better for ski racing.
“If you could drive a Zamboni down it, we would probably be happy,” Dodge said. “That way it doesn’t rut up, and it’s fair for everyone.”
The men’s and women’s teams swapped places the following day, with the women winning the slalom and the men coming in second. The Catamount women went one-two as Paula Moltzan continued her undefeated slalom season. But Dartmouth played spoiler, with Dlouhy, Peterson and Steph Currie ’20 going three-four-six to give Dartmouth a one-point win. On the men’s side, Nef skied the fastest first run of the day before settling for second place. Though McLaughlin and Domonoske brought home fifth and sixth, UVM edged Dartmouth by six points.
Saturday’s racing brought a larger crowd out to the skiway. Onlookers shouted the skiers through “Hangman’s Corner,” the turn at the bottom of Thomas Trail, while Brian Francis ’18 and other Big Green skiers provided color commentary. The McLane Family Lodge buzzed with activity as athletes took over the second floor of the building.
The scene at Oak Hill was even more crowded, and the tight trails made for an intimate atmosphere. The collegiate races were combined with an Eastern Cup race for junior skiers, bringing nearly 400 competitors to the course. Throngs of spectators, and the Dartmouth Dining Services food truck gave the races a tailgate-like atmosphere. Fans cheered skiers on from the starting blocks and lined the top of a climb on the back half of the 5-kilometer loop.
“It was fun to be out on the course and hear people telling me to go and saying my name and saying ‘go Dartmouth’ and being able to dig deeper,” Glueck said.
Glueck hails from Hanover and knows the Oak Hill trails well, having trained here as a junior skier with the Ford Sayre club. In the 10K skate on Saturday, the first-year had his best-ever collegiate performance, finishing fifth.
Familiarity with the course gave Dartmouth Nordic skiers a bit of an edge, according to Glueck and Osgood.
“You’ve skied that course so many times,” Glueck said. “You’ve skied it in intervals, you’ve skied it in workouts, so you know where you can make a move, you know the good lines, you know where the technique is efficient and it’s fun to be skiing it in a race and using that to your advantage.”
DeLine finished second, just over 14 seconds behind Colby College’s Zane Fields, who has won every skate race this season. Glueck crossed the line 6.1 seconds ahead of McEwen, who finished sixth, sealing a six-point freestyle win for the Big Green.
The women’s Nordic team put in another strong showing in the 5-kilometer freestyle as the podium was a carbon copy of Friday’s top three. Ogden got her second win of the season, followed by Jortberg and Sonnesyn. Hunt-Smith took fourth, barely two seconds off the podium, and is still looking for her first podium of the season after taking fourth in five straight races.
Saturday’s performances brought home a big overall win for the Big Green.
Last season, the Dartmouth lost a 40-point overall lead on the second day of its home carnival. By winning three of four events on Saturday, the team ensured that the 2018 was — at long last — the home win it had waited eight years to get.