Senior Spring: Brian McLaughlin ’18 is competitive on all stages
Brian McLaughlin ’18 has had a magnificent Dartmouth career and is a veteran member of the varsity alpine ski team. McLaughlin has been on skis since he was two and competitive since he was young. A leader on the team and a notorious competitor, McLaughlin was already a prolific athlete by the time he started at Dartmouth, but he has proved himself even more.
From a young age, McLaughlin has been a top skier in the country and successful on both the national and international stage. In 2011, McLaughlin had his first big breakthrough when he qualified for the U.S. Championships. He consequently earned a spot on the U.S. Development Team. McLaughlin has also been a part of the U.S. Junior team.
“The U.S. Ski Team is definitely a different vibe,” McLaughlin said. “It is awesome to race and train with some of the best skiers in the world. Also, representing the U.S. at the World Junior Ski Championships was special.”
This year, McLaughlin had several impressive outings on the national and international circuits. McLaughlin took first place in the Giant Slalom at the Nor-Am Cup in Canada, while finishing second in the same event at National Championships two weeks later. He has also competed across the globe as a member of the U.S. Ski Team, including his 2017 perfornabce at the Australian New Zealand Cup.
As a member of the Big Green, McLaughlin was a leader who was known by his peers as a hard worker and an intense competitor.
“He’s very meticulous with his preparation both on and off the hill,” teammate and captain Thomas Woolson ’17 said. “Before races, he is always making sure his skis and body are as prepared as possible, and when on the hill, whether it’s training or racing, he makes sure he has a plan and is in a place where he feels comfortable to execute. He’s someone who is never looking for a shortcut.”
McLaughlin’s extreme preparation made him an athlete who stood out amongst his peers. He made a name for himself early in Hanover as he represented Dartmouth at each of the six carnivals as a rookie. He was especially impressive in the giant slalom in which he came in fourth in his first event. By his sophomore year, McLaughlin had become a first team All-American. He finished third in the NCAA Championships in slalom and reached the podium in five of the six carnival events.
As he grew and became a veteran member of the Big Green, McLaughlin took on more of a leadership role, serving as a motivator and mentor for developing members of the team.
“It was invaluable to have Brian as a teammate,” alpine skier Kalle Wagner ’21 said. “He always leads by example and helped foster a special culture within the ski team.”
McLaughlin has made invaluable contributions to the Dartmouth ski team beyond what the statistics read. He helped culminate a competitive culture that has kept Dartmouth men’s skiing amongst the best collegiate programs in the country.
Nonetheless, McLaughlin had some spectacular statistical performances of his own as a member of the Big Green. He had a star-caliber senior year, posting excellent results in several different categories at national and international events.
“I had a few of the best races of my career this season,” McLaughlin said. “Winning the NCAA Championships [Giant Slalom] was really cool. The fact that it is such a team event and being neck and neck with [Tanguy Nef ’20] was really special.”
Even some of McLaughlin’s long-time teammates were amazed by McLaughlin’s performance this season. Woolson has been a teammate of McLaughlin’s since high school and was especially enthralled by the success McLaughlin achieved this year.
“My favorite memories come from this year at NCAA championships and Nor-Am finals in Kimberly, B.C.” Woolson said. “[McLaughlin] and I have been teammates since high school, and to have a teammate reach the level that [he] was skiing at this season is something I’ll always cherish.”
Woolson also pointed out that this season was a perfect bow on top of a very impressive collegiate career for McLaughlin.
“To have watched him work through all his setbacks throughout he years and culminate his college career with an NCAA win and a Nor-Am title was incredible,” he said.
McLaughlin is very thankful for his years as a member of the Big Green. The team-focused atmosphere is hard to find in sports that are as individualistic as skiing, but McLaughlin found a home in Hanover. He has enjoyed the competitive culture and close teammates who worked hard to push each other to be as good as possible.
“The coolest thing about competing at Dartmouth is the team mentality that is hard to find elsewhere in skiing,” McLaughlin said. “Competing at the NCAA Championships with all four teams — men’s and women’s alpine and Nordic — striving for the same goal is really fun. The atmosphere is intense and every athlete and run matters, which makes for a really unique experience.”
McLaughlin’s departure marks the end of an era for Dartmouth skiing. Though the team may have huge boots to fill, McLaughlin’s impact on the team will last for years to come. McLaughlin was a great leader and an even better competitor, setting a very high bar. McLaughlin has etched his place into a historic list of elite skiers who have worn the Dartmouth green.