Skiing teams set their sights on national championship

by Saba Nejad | 1/8/18 2:05am

by Evan Morgan / The Dartmouth

Last year, the Dartmouth ski teams reclaimed the east from the University of Vermont. This year, they’re aiming higher.

“It was great to be back in the mix last year, winning regionals and coming fourth at nationals, but I think everyone there felt we could have done better,” men’s alpine team captain Thomas Woolson ’17 said.

The carnival season, dominated last year by the Big Green, begins this weekend with cross-country competition at Colby College.

The Nordic team has not been resting. It will take on the snow at Waterville, Maine fresh off competition U.S. Nationals this weekend in Anchorage, Alaska. According to women’s Nordic co-captain Zoe Snow ’18, nationals allowed the team to settle back into serious racing against the majority of the strongest skiers in the nation.

Lauren Jortberg ’20, an impact rookie last season, was the top women’s performer for the Big Green, finishing inside the top 15 in the 10-kilometer freestyle, 20-kilometer classic and freestyle sprint. On the men’s side, Gavin McEwen ’19 landed in the top 30 of the 15-kilometer freestyle and 30-kilometer classic.

Men’s Nordic captain Luke Brown ’18 looks forward to pushing his teammates — and in turn being pushed by them — during the season. He is also excited by the prospect of racing on Dartmouth’s home course.

“With this early snow, we should be able to host our home races at Oak Hill, which I’ve never actually raced at, so that would be sweet,” Brown said.

While the Nordic teams traveled to Silver Star, British Columbia to train, the alpine teams took a training trip to Colorado.

“Just having the entire team there, both men and women, was a great opportunity for us,” men’s alpine skier David Domonoske ’20 said.

Dartmouth alpine skiers also split time between British Columbia and the east coast for the opening non-collegiate races of the season. Brian McLaughlin ’18 and Tanguy Nef ’20 each picked up North American Cup wins at Panorama, British Columbia in mid-December, success which has bolstered the Big Green’s confidence for the season to come.

But despite a deep roster, only six members of each squad can start a given carnival, meaning Big Green skiers fight an ongoing battle for spots on the carnival team.

“Showing up to training every day, you’re competing with one another but also pushing each other and with a big team, you’re honestly teaching each other and helping each other too,” Domonoske said. “Being able to watch and pace yourself off athletes who are close to racing at the top level of the sport is a luxury that few skiers outside of national teams have.”

The Winter Olympic season is an especially exciting time to be a Dartmouth skier, according to Snow. Historically, the entire team has woken up early on important race mornings to watch the events live and cheer on current and past teammates. While none of the current Dartmouth skiers will be in the Olympics this year, it is fully expected that a handful of racers will be contenders in the 2022 Olympics.

Some skiers have already made their mark in international competition. In October, Foreste Peterson ’18 made her debut in the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Soelden, Austria. McLaughlin also made his World Cup debut at a Dec. 3 race in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Dartmouth’s veteran leadership, including Peterson and McLaughlin, should be an asset this season. The Big Green will return its entire NCAA Championship team with the exception of Fabian Stocek ’17.

“It isn’t something that happens too often,” Woolson said. “It’s really nice when you’re able to keep the core together and add some young talent to help push the team ahead.”

Another point in Dartmouth’s favor, according to Woolson: Many other top teams have skiers taking the winter off or missing significant time for the Olympics, which could cause some to miss the NCAA Championship in March.

“I think that we are serious NCAA title competitors, and I am excited to see where our racing takes us,” Snow said.