Caldwell '12 named Skier of the Year

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 4/26/12 10:00pm

Although Sophie Caldwell '12 began skiing "as soon as [she] learned to walk," she said she never expected to be honored as the 2012 Collegiate Nordic Skier of the Year by Ski Racing Magazine. Caldwell, a member of the Dartmouth women's ski team, received the honor last Monday and was surprised and honored by the award.

"I had read about the award before but wasn't expecting it or anything," Caldwell said. "It was a pleasant surprise. I'm obviously very happy, but I wish the whole team could get the recognition because I think the most impressive thing was how the Dartmouth Nordic team did in the NCAA [Championships]."

Her teammates said that Caldwell is always modest despite enjoying a highly successful career as a skier.

"She's the epitome of humble," teammate Erika Flowers '12 said. "She doesn't make a big deal about it. She really just loves the sport for the racing and her teammates. She doesn't do it for the awards."

Even so, Caldwell has received plenty of recognition as a skier, especially this winter when she helped the Big Green place fourth at the NCAA Championships. During the carnival season, Caldwell won three races and placed second in three others. She continued to excel at the NCAA Championships in Bozeman, Mont., where she placed third in the 5K freestyle and second in the 15K classic.

The second race was a photo finish in which Caldwell came in second by just two inches. She received first-team All-American honors in both events, bringing her career All-American total to five. Caldwell's teammates say that her technique and tenacity help her be successful on the snow.

"Sophie has probably some of the best technique of any collegiate skier," Flowers said. "She's also definitely a fighter. She doesn't give up easily. I think competition motivates her in a positive way."

Caldwell's younger sister, Isabel Caldwell '14, also skis for Dartmouth.

"She's just very graceful," Isabel Caldwell said. "She's also very tough and can push through a lot of pain."

Sophie Caldwell works hard to succeed and is constantly pushing herself to improve, and her teammates said she motivates them to push their limits as well.

"At every workout, she's doing what she can to push herself," Flowers said. "That's definitely one of the biggest things I've learned from her."

Caldwell said that while she and the team train hard, she feels that the reward makes it all worthwhile.

"We have to sacrifice other things, so it's very rewarding to do well," Caldwell said. "Although I think everyone questions it once in a while, I think it's definitely worth it."

Her teammates said that Caldwell is also an encouraging and fun presence on the team. This year she was awarded the Martha Rockwell Award, an award voted on by members of the team and given to someone "who embodies the spirit of skiing as a whole," according to Flowers.

"She's a quiet leader, but she definitely inspires everyone around her," Flowers said. "She's always reaching out, coordinating everything from team dinners to get-togethers with the girls' team. She makes everyone feel welcome."

Caldwell said that there was an "incredible team dynamic" this year, which helped fuel the Big Green's success. She explained that Dartmouth is scored as a team at each carnival and takes the concept of being a team to heart.

"We're genuinely happy when each individual does well," Caldwell said. "I think we're all out there working very hard so we have a lot of respect for each other."

Isabel Caldwell emphasized that she looks up to Sophie Caldwell as both a skier and a person.

"I always like to follow behind her," Isabel Caldwell said. "It's good to help figure out what technique she's using."

Flowers mentioned Sophie Caldwell's tenacity and perseverance in the face of adversity as another reason why she's been able to succeed. Last year, Caldwell was diagnosed with mononucleosis after racing "incredibly" at U.S. Senior Nationals. Caldwell had to take two months off from skiing and then work back into shape for the collegiate season.

Isabel Caldwell cited Sophie Caldwell's passion as something she admires about her sister.

"She's able to balance so much," she said. "She really cares about everything she does but never takes it too seriously. I'm very proud of her."

Caldwell, a Vermont native, said the community she grew up in was the source of her passion for skiing. In addition to Isabel, Sophie Caldwell's brother Austin Caldwell '15 is also on the team.

"I think you get to meet a lot of great people [while skiing]," Sophie Caldwell said. "Some of my best friends I've come to know through skiing, and you really remain close."

Caldwell will not be losing touch with her skiing friends any time soon. Next year, she plans on skiing for a professional team based out of Vermont with some of her Dartmouth teammates.