Nordic ski team posts strong results at National Championship
In its final action before the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association carnival season, the Dartmouth men’s and women’s nordic ski compete in the US Cross Country Championships from Jan. 2 to Jan. 9.
Led by standout performances from Corey Stock ’16 and Patrick Caldwell ’17, the nordic team enjoyed a strong showing in the week-long event. The same day the competition began, the inaugural SYNC Coaches Poll ranked the Dartmouth ski team sixth in the nation and the Nordic team seventh after a sixth-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Skiing Championships. The nordic team received 31 points from the United States Collegiate Ski Coaches Association.
The U.S. Cross Country Championship, featuring a field mixed with both collegiate and professional skiers, is one of the biggest events of the year for the Dartmouth nordic team.
“The only skiers nationwide that weren’t at those championships were the small group of skiers racing at the World Cup,” men’s Nordic coach Ruff Patterson said.
Cross country skiers travel to Michigan from all over the country, breaking the East Coast–West Coast collegiate divide. Since the Championships gather all the top skiing names in one place, they allow for scouting by the United States National Skiing team.
For college skiers looking to compete on this team, the Championships can be a great opportunity to prove themselves as ready to compete at the highest level of the sport.
“It’s qualifying for major international trips — the World Junior Championships and the Under-23 Championships, as well as qualifying toward World Championships,” women’s coach Cami Thompson Graves said. “For our athletes, it’s twofold. It’s a chance to get the season kicked into gear and get going, because we race four races in seven or eight days, and then for some of our athletes it’s a chance to qualify for some of these big trips.”
Among Dartmouth nordic skiers, Caldwell, the son and grandson of Olympic cross country skiers, shows promise of having a similarly bright future in the sport.
“Patrick Caldwell is definitely on a national track,” Patterson said. “He’s going to school and racing at the college level, but his sights are set on skiing post-graduation.”
Caldwell, who earned first-team All-America honors at the NCAA Skiing Championships last year for finishing fifth in the 20k Freestyle, has kicked off 2015 by living one of his dreams — standing on the podium at a national skiing championship.
“This was definitely the best I’ve done at Nationals,” Caldwell said. “I was totally excited to be on the podium. It was sort of a dream goal to be on the podium, and it wasn’t really on my radar heading into the week.”
Caldwell placed third in the 15K freestyle — second among collegiate skiers — by finishing the event in 42:54.3. He followed up his podium performance by finishing the 30k classic in 1:31:39.9, good for a top-10 finish overall and, again, second among collegiate skiers.
Due to his standout performance at the Championships, Caldwell was one of five male skiers to qualify for the United States U23 World Championship Cross Country team. He will travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan to compete from Jan. 27 to Feb. 9.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience,” Caldwell said. “I never thought I would go to Kazakhstan, so that will be really cool.”
Stock, who was forced out of the NCAA Championships last year on the second day due to an untimely illness, was crowned the women’s grand champion at the Cross Country Championships for scoring the most points out of all collegiate skiers in events that were counted toward the Collegiate Cup.
Among college competitors, Stock finished fifth in the women’s 10K free with a time of 23:40.3 and fourth in the women’s 20K classic with a time of 1:14:34.9.
“Corey was one of the top women in all the races,” Caldwell said. “It’s always good to see teammates and other college skiers near the top of the rankings in these races.”
Big Green alumna Rosie Brennan ’11 competed against Stock in these events, taking bronze in the 10k free and winning the 20K classic.
At the week-long Championships, skiers compete across styles in either freestyle or classic events and across short, medium or long distances. Although carnival rules stipulate that only six men and women can travel, the Championships set no such limit.
Therefore, the Championships also serve as an opportunity for the top-end skiers in Dartmouth’s development program rather than strictly skiers from Dartmouth’s varsity team, Patterson said.
The Big Green kicks off carnival season today in Maine at the Bates Carnival.