Skiway continues major upgrades

by Stephen Preefer | 12/4/07 1:15am

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The Skiway has just updated its giant slalom and slalom courses to match International Ski Federation guidelines.
by The Dartmouth / The Dartmouth

The upgrades included 1,400 feet of safety netting on the giant slalom course and the widening of both the giant slalom and slalom courses to a standard 40-meter wide slope.

Furthermore, the skiway has also upgraded its lodge and snowmaking capabilities with new snow guns, pumps and an improved drainage system.

Dartmouth decided to renovate both courses after reading a report from an FIS and United States Ski Association inspector in December, 2006. The inspector evaluated the course because of a request from one of the Dartmouth ski coaches and the skiway's general manager. Safety was the main driver for this upgrade.

"We asked FIS to inspect the course to make sure it was up to standard," men's alpine ski coach Peter Dodge said. "We took those measures to increase safety on the course."

Dartmouth's ski coaches and the skiway's general manager considered several different long-term and short-term solutions. The final decision made was to invest in a long-term solution that will immediately impact Dartmouth's ski teams.

Although Dartmouth's ski team won the 2007 NCAA Championships, it was without all the facilities most ski teams have.

"We couldn't race on the most important trail we had last year," Dodge said.

The team felt similarly to Dodge and is excited to get back on its giant slalom course this year.

"It will be great to be able to get back on our home hill for giant slalom this season," Michelanne Shields '08 said. "Last year, because we weren't racing on the hill, it was never opened so we traveled to other areas to train giant slalom. The changes should make the hill a lot safer and hopefully more fun. It was a necessary step to make the hill safe for racing and training."

After the skiway is completed this summer, it should be a truly spectacular facility.

"When it's complete, it should be a real showcase facility," Dodge said. "It is a good commitment to Dartmouth's ski team to upgrade the facility."

The team expects strong results again this season.

"It's always tough to repeat as national champions, but we have a lot of good skiers coming in and we look to continue our undefeated streak as long as we can," Dodge said.

The skiers have views consistent with those of Coach Dodge concerning the upcoming season.

"We're pretty strong again," John Dudek '08 said. "It will be difficult to repeat what happened last year but that sort of thing always is. We have some good freshmen that will definitely be the future of the team and our juniors are starting to get pretty fast. I think if we just go out there and do what we are capable of, it will be another great and fun season."

This improvement is significant in the Dartmouth community for many reasons.

First off, Dartmouth has sent an athlete to every Winter Olympics since 1924. Therefore, there is good reason to believe that at least one of the skiers on this year's squad will have a shot at the 2010 Olympics and that this course improvement will help in their preparation.

Secondly, the skiway is home to many local programs, including after-school programs for children from nearby areas. These improvements allow the course to continue serving the Upper Valley community and Dartmouth alike.

"The new [ski] lodge is incredible," Dudek said. "Not only for the team but also for programs like Ford Sayer -- the local club team around here -- and all the little kids that learn to ski there. It has been a pretty important part of the really young ski community in the Upper Valley."