Senior Spring: Foreste Peterson ’18 dominates alpine competition, plans to ski professionally post-graduation

by Andrew Wright | 4/16/18 2:15am

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In addition to competing for Dartmouth her senior year, Foreste Peterson ’18 made her World Cup debut in the FIS World Cup this past fall.

Source: Courtesy of Foreste Peterson

Alpine skiing captain Foreste Peterson ’18 led the Dartmouth Ski Team to a third place finish at this year’s NCAA Ski Championships, among its best results in years. The team captain, from Berkeley, California, has been among the most successful athletes for the Big Green at any level of competition over the last four years, with dual All-American First-Team honors and four All-East First Team honors. Along with this, Peterson competed at the FIS World Cup prior to the normal collegiate season this past fall, making her debut in Soelden, Austria in October 2017. 

Peterson was introduced to skiing when she was two by her parents, both of whom are former ski racers. She quickly excelled at the sport, eventually pursuing high school postgraduate training with the U.S. Ski Team. The grueling training schedule and constant competition required on the national team began to burn her out after a couple of years, and she began considering college and collegiate skiing competition as a way to try something new. 

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been drawn to Dartmouth,” Peterson said. “No one in my family had gone there, so I’m not even sure how I found out about it originally, but I honestly loved how it sounded. As time progressed and I learned how strong the Dartmouth Ski Team was, I became even more drawn to it. My visit here when I was in high school exceeded my hopes and expectations, and my heart was totally set on it.”

Peterson found immediate success at Dartmouth in her freshman year, quickly positioning herself as the team’s top female alpine skier with All-East First Team honors and five podium finishes to her name.  Peterson only improved during her sophomore season, making the All-America First Team with a fifth-place finish in the giant slalom at the NCAA Championships. Over the season, she had six podium finishes and two outright victories, coming into the championship as the top-ranked skier in the giant slalom on the East Coast. Junior year ended with Peterson receiving All-American honors yet again for her third-place finish in the slalom at NCAA championships, along with her third All-East First Team spot. This capped off a season in which she finished inside the top nine in all nine races, with three outright victories. All of this past success built into her senior year, where she achieved All-East First Team honors once again and made her debut at the FIS World Cup in October 2017, the top level of professional skiing and the culmination of the success she has achieved in her collegiate career.

Peterson shared that her proudest moment did not actually occur during collegiate competition.

“My proudest moment didn’t physically take place at Dartmouth, but rather [as] I was representing Dartmouth while I raced in my first ever World Cup races this season,” Peterson said. “Getting to compete on the world stage like this has always been a dream of mine, and to do it while being a member of the Dartmouth ski team was especially cool.”

Peterson’s dedication and drive for the sport did not go unnoticed by her coaches and her teammates. John Dwyer, the head coach of women’s alpine skiing, who previously coached at Burke Mountain Academy and worked with the U.S. Ski Team extensively before arriving at Dartmouth in 2015, describes Peterson as “fearless on the hill.”

Dwyer also admires the skier for how easy she is to speak with.

“She is candid and honest, and to have that type of relationship with an athlete, to bounce things back and forth, is really special,” Dwyer said. 

Alexa Dlouhy ’19, a fellow alpine skier and dual All-American, described her first impression of Peterson as “extremely positive,” with the skier being the kind of person that “radiates positivity and warmth.”

Dlouhy views Peterson as someone who is always willing to do what it takes to succeed, describing her strengths as her positivity and work ethic. 

“On the hill, this means that [Peterson] can have a tough day of training but come back the next day ready to work twice as hard,” Dlouhy said. “She does not shy away from challenges. This adds a lot to the team in that she is always someone you can count on to motivate you and lift you up when you are having a bad day.” 

Dwyer believes that the team benefited enormously from her presence.

“[Peterson has been] a positive person and a role model for the other girls; showing her dedication to the sport has been an asset to the rest of the team,” Dwyer said. “She is just a good person, and her continuing to work hard shows the other girls that anything is possible.” 

Dlouhy believes that Peterson’s dedication  has made her an excellent leader for the rest of the team. 

“I think she did a great job in setting the tone for the team because she is serious and committed to the sport, yet at the end of the day wants skiing to be enjoyable,” Dlouhy said. “I think this fostered a positive team culture which I hope will continue.”

Alongside her athletic accolades, Peterson has excelled in the classroom, earning Academic All-Ivy honors her sophomore, junior and senior years, with a 3.74 GPA majoring in environmental studies. She was also named to the  United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Collegiate All-Academic Ski Team her junior year.

While many people might view the busy skiing schedule as making things even more difficult, Peterson works differently.

“Balancing academics and skiing has no doubt been challenging, but what has worked best for me is prioritizing what you’re doing in the moment,” Peterson said. “Making the most of my time has been key, so whether that was putting all of my focus and energy into the limited amount of time we’ve had during ski training or the time spent doing schoolwork. I love having a structured schedule in my life, so juggling school and skiing has definitely helped with that.”

The grueling year-round training schedule of alpine skiing has meant that Peterson has had less time to pursue extracurricular activities at Dartmouth, something she hopes she can address this spring and summer term, when she will be finishing her last few credits. Peterson views this as a time that she can explore what she wants to do in the long term. After finishing her degree this summer, Peterson plans to move to Park City, Utah, where she will be joining a new private women’s skiing team.

Despite leaving the school in just two short terms, Peterson says she will always carry the lessons she has learned from her time in Hanover. 

“My biggest takeaway from Dartmouth is the importance of surrounding yourself with people who make you happy,” Peterson said. “The ski team has always done that for me and has been the best community I could have ever imagined. Dartmouth skiing will always hold a very special place in my heart.”