Big Green Olympians have strong showing at 2018 Winter Olympics
With high expectations and an arsenal of veteran Olympians, Dartmouth affiliates stay neck-in-neck with other elites
Six Dartmouth alums and current students represented Team USA in the alpine skiing events.
Two-time Olympian David Chodounsky ’08, three-time Olympian Nolan Kasper ’14, Tricia Mangan ’19 and Alice Merryweather ’21, along with two other athletes, represented Team USA in the alpine skiing team event, which made its Olympic debut in this year’s Games. Of 16 teams, Team USA finished ninth in the event.
In a thrilling race, Mangan, who had replaced the injured Jackie Wiles, lost to Britain’s Alex Tilley by just .06 seconds.
Bad luck continued for the U.S. after Chodounsky lost his pole early in the race, forcing him to ski around the gates rather than pushing them out of the way.
“It would have been nice to do better,” Chodounsky told TeamUSA.org. “This is one of my favorite events, for sure. I feel like I’m pretty good at it, just a little bit of bad luck today.”
The Americans were tied 2-2 going into the 1/8 final but Kasper finished just .19 seconds behind Britain’s fastest male, Dave Ryding. Together with Tilley’s win, Britain advanced to the second round.
Led by slalom silver medalist and combined bronze medalist Wendy Holdener, Switzerland won the overall event, defeating Austria 3-1 in the final.
Merryweather, who had won the downhill title at the world junior championships last March, was named a reserve athlete to the alpine team event squad.
Unfortunately, the Big Green skiers couldn’t catch a break in the individual events. Andrew Weibrecht ’09, who had won a silver medal in Sochi and bronze in Vancouver, was disqualified from the Super-G event when he skied off course. This was the only Olympic skiing event Weibrecht participated in this year.
Mangan took a nasty tumble after catching an edge in her Olympic debut run in the women’s giant slalom event and didn’t advance past the second round.
After finishing 26th in the in 2010 but missing the 2014 Games, Tommy Ford ’12 finished 20th in the giant slalom.
Chodounsky competed in the Olympic slalom, finishing 18th overall, while alpine team event teammate Kasper did not finish in the men’s alpine slalom.
Merryweather also competed in the Alpine Combined, the final women’s alpine event. Alongside teammates Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn, Merryweather started at No. 24 and finished 15th with a time of 2:26.90 behind Shiffrin’s 2:21.87, good for second.
“The Olympics are as big as it gets.” Merryweather told Wicked Local. “I think that experiencing this ultimate level of sport will make the World Cup circuit a little less intimidating, and hopefully boost my confidence going into not just the rest of the season, but also the next few years.”
Although Team USA didn’t come out with a medal, the Big Green athletes competed hard and soaked in the Olympic experience and are already looking forward to 2022.
Of the 10 biathletes representing team USA, two of them once called Dartmouth home.
Susan Dunklee ’08 is a two-time Olympian and is the second person in her family to hold that title. Her father, Stan Dunklee, competed in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics in cross country skiing, and her uncle found his way to the Olympics for cross country skiing back in 1972. Dunklee looked to improve upon her already strong performance from the 2014 Games in Sochi where she ended with an impressive 11th place finish in the mass start and a 14th place finish in the sprint start, among a few relay appearances.
This time around, Dunklee found the most success in the 15-kilometer individual race where she posted a top-20 finish out of 87 competitors. In that race, Dunklee led the four Americans with a 19th place finish. Dunklee cleared all of her shots from the prone stages and her only blemishes came in her standing stages. It was a nice turnaround for Dunklee after her underwhelming 66th place finish in the 7.5-kilometer sprint earlier in the week. In an interview with Team USA representatives, she was “bummed about that [race],” but Dunklee also remarked that the biathlon is a sport that requires and teaches resiliency, which is no surprise given her ability to bounce back and give an outstanding performance days later.
Dunklee appeared in two other races for Team USA, claiming 15th in the mixed relay and 13th in the women’s 4x6-kilometer relay.
The other Dartmouth competitor in the biathlon was Emily Dreissigacker ’11. It was always in the cards for Dreissigacker to be an Olympian, yet surprisingly, the original plan never included the biathlon. Both of Dreissigacker’s parents and her aunt were Olympic rowers, and her older sister, Hannah Dreissigacker ’09 Th’10, competed at the 2014 Olympics in the biathlon. During her time at Dartmouth, Dreissigacker was on the varsity rowing team and tried to follow her family’s legacy and competed for a spot on the Olympic rowing team for years, though she came up short. When an injury forced her to stop rowing for a few months, she turned to cross country skiing to stay in shape. Four years later, she found herself at the pinnacle of a cross country skiing-based sport.
Dreissigacker competed in four races during the Olympics: the sprint, pursuit, individual and relay. By placing in the top-60 in the 7.5-kilometer sprint, finishing 51st overall, Dreissigacker qualified to compete in the 10-kilometer pursuit. She was the only American to qualify for the pursuit, where she improved relative to her fellow qualifiers up to 47th place. In the individual, Dreissigacker started off on a bad foot after missing two of her shots from the prone position, which is unusual, considering Dreissigacker views that to be her stronger of the two shooting positions. Dreissigacker found a way to finish on a higher note, hitting 13 of the remaining 15 targets and her performance yielded a 67th place finish.
Dreissigacker combined efforts with Dunklee in the women’s 4x6-kilometer relay. Together, the Big Green alums worked with their teammates to beat five other nations, coming in 13th place.
Women's Ice Hockey
After five hard fought games in PyeongChang, Dartmouth’s Laura Stacey ’16 and head coach Laura Schuler faced heartbreak as the Canadian women’s ice hockey team lost to the Americans in the Olympic gold medal game 3-2.
Going into the gold medal game, Canada was 4-0 as it defeated each team it faced in the preliminary rounds of the tournament. Starting with a 5-0 win on Feb. 11 against the Olympic Athletes from Russia. Russia was banned from competing under its flag in this year’s Winter Olympics due to the 2014 doping scandal in Sochi. In that first game, Stacey, a forward for the Canadians, saw her tournament high of 11 minutes and 14 seconds of ice time during this game with an average shift time of 37 seconds.
Under the guidance of head coach Schuler, the team won their second Group A game against Finland 4-1 and their next contest versus the United States 2-1, a short-lived edge over the Americans who would prove their worth later in the tournament. The winning record allowed Canada to skip the quarterfinals game and automatically get a bid to the semifinals.
During the semifinal game against the OAR, Stacey recorded an assist on Canada’s fourth goal of the game scored by Emily Clarke at the start of the third period. Stacey spent 9:30 on the ice and posted her tournament high of 38 second average shift time. The team was able to dominate the ice once again and advance to the gold medal game on Feb. 21 at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.
In the gold medal game, Stacey saw 8:41 of ice time and played 30 second shifts. Jocelyne Larocque, the defenseman who caused controversy for removing her medal during the ceremony after the game, saw over 30 minutes of ice time, while Laura Fortino recorded the highest time on the ice out of any player on either team at 35:52, playing 46 second shifts. In comparison, the highest total ice time for a Team USA player in this game came from defenseman Megan Keller with 29:05.
Team USA’s victory was sealed by twin sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, who tied the game in the final period, and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, the last player to put the puck in the back of the net. With the game tied, the two teams faced off for an intense 20 minutes of overtime play before heading to a shootout. Olympic rookie Maddie Rooney held the net for Team USA, while veteran Shannon Szabados goaltended for the Canadians.
Hilary Knight and Monique Lamoureux-Morando scored for the Americans while Haley Irwin and Marie-Philip Poulin were able to keep Canada in the running, tying the game 2-2.
After five rounds of nail biting action in a shootout, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Morando got the pick around Szabados and Rooney made one final save on Meghan Agosta’s second shot of the shootout to seal Team USA’s victory. The tables turned from four years ago when Canada was able to equalize the final game against the U.S. in the final minutes of the third period in Sochi. With the game forced to overtime, Canada shocked the Americans and ended up winning 3-2.
This year’s uncharacteristic loss was especially painful for Schuler, who lost against Team USA in the gold medal game in 1998 at the Winter Games in Nagano, the only other time the Canadian women’s team has not placed first in the Olympics. With the exception of 1998 and 2018, the Canadian team has always clinched gold in women’s hockey. While the results of the tournament were not what Schuler nor Stacey could’ve anticipated, their performances were incredibly commendable and they were still rewarded for their hard work with a silver medal.
Dartmouth demonstrated a strong presence this Winter Olympics in cross country skiing as five American Dartmouth alumni and one Bermudan represented their home countries in Pyeongchang. Three American women alumni, Rosie Brennan ’11, Sophie Caldwell ’12 and Ida Sargent ’11 had official results posted, while Patrick Caldwell ’17 competed for the United States and Tucker Murphy ’04 skied for Bermuda. Discretionary selection Annie Hart ’14, a teammate of Caldwell’s at Dartmouth and on elite ski team SMS T2, was a member of the team but did not compete.
Longtime women’s cross country skiing coach and head of Dartmouth skiing program Cami Thompson Graves coached all four female alumni on the U.S. cross country ski team.
“I think that’s one of our overarching goals, to help athletes be able to [reach the Winter Olympics],” Thompson Graves said. “It’s really cool to have them take on skiing and keep skiing outside of just what we do here.”
Brennan competed in the women’s 15-kilometer skiathlon, finishing 58th out of 60 in her Olympic debut. Brennan came out of the gates faster, holding onto 45th place after 7.5 kilometers of classic skiing, but slid to back of the pack in the second half freestyle portion. She clocked with a time of 47:36, 6:51.1 minutes behind winner Charlotte Kalla of Sweden.
Sargent finished 33rd in the sprint classic. Her time of 3:25.80 left her less than two seconds short of quarterfinal qualification, as the top 30 skiers move on in the competition. Sargent had finished 19th in the sprint freestyle in 2014.
Sophie Caldwell had the most success of any Dartmouth Nordic skier, both as an individual in the sprint classic and as a team member of the 4x5-kilometer relay.
Sophie Caldwell breezed through the qualifying rounds and quarterfinals to the semifinals, where she fell just 0.18 seconds shy of a finals appearance. She finished eighth overall with a time of 3:17.06. She made the finals four year prior in Sochi in the sprint freestyle, finishing sixth overall.
“Sophie probably had the best shot of doing well, and her best race was eighth, which is pretty solid, but she had been sixth, so it would’ve been nice to have a little bit more,” said Thompson Graves.
Sophie Caldwell led off in the 4x5K relay for the U.S., helping set the pace to the U.S.’s fifth place finish. Their time of 52:44.8, 1:20.5 behind winner Norway, put them a couple spots away from the podium.
Thompson Graves was not surprised by Sophie Caldwell’s success.
“Sophie grew up skiing, and it’s awesome to watch her move on her skis,” she said. “She’s very graceful and knows how to particularly do well when she’s racing head-to-head, and how to maneuver around other people.”
Her cousin, Patrick Caldwell, made his Olympic debut, racing in the 30-kilometer skiathlon. Caldwell finished 51st out of 65 with a time of 1:23:18.1.
Murphy raced for Bermuda in his third straight Winter Olympics, finishing 104th in the 15-kilometer freestyle with a time of 43:05.7. He finished 88th in the same event in 2010 and 84th in the 15 kilometer classic in 2014. Murphy, the first Bermudan skier to compete in the Olympics, is a figurehead off the trail as well; he carried the flag in 2010, 2014 and 2018 for Bermuda.