Ski team has hopes set on title with an impressive freshman class

by Caitlyn McGovern | 1/17/20 2:00am

ogdencourtesy

Ogden headlines a strong Dartmouth roster in defense of the EISA title.

Source: Photo Courtesy of Katharine Ogden

Dartmouth’s ski team will hit the slopes this weekend for its first races of the season. Last season, the Big Green finished in fourth place at the NCAA Championships and won its third-straight Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association title. 

Brayton Osgood, the men’s Nordic head coach, is looking forward to the team improving its consistency and depth this season.

“Compared to last year, I think we should improve upon our depth,” Osgood said. “We are looking to have more skiers and more of the team finishing in the top 10, top 20 and top 30 in each race. And having everybody contributing and being part of that scoring group.”

John Dwyer, the women’s alpine skiing head coach, is confident in the team as it heads into its first competition of the season.

“I feel like our team is solid top to bottom in both slalom and in [grand slalom], so between the ability and then the leadership I think those are our greatest strengths,” Dwyer said. “We should do quite well this year.”

While the team has been training hard throughout the fall and early winter, Osgood predicts that it is going to be a close season in the EISA; however, he thinks this year’s batch of freshmen may help the team rise in the ranks.

“They came in from the first day of fall practice and brought the level of the training group up,” Osgood said. “The training pace and focus has been higher, which has generally been a good thing. They’re pushing the upperclassmen, and they’re ready to step right in and also contribute when it comes to a scoring and results perspective.”

With Tanguy Nef ’20 leaving the Big Green to compete with the Swiss National Team, this year’s incoming class will add important depth to the team. Two men’s freshman Nordic skiers in particular, Cam Wolfe ’23 and Alex Nemeth ’23, will be making their Big Green debuts this winter. Wolfe narrowly missed finishing in the top 50 at the U.S. National Championships this year, while Nemeth had an excellent fall training, according to Osgood.

Dwyer noted Abi Jewett ’22, Gwen Wattenmaker ’23 and Bri Trudeau ’23 as underclassmen to look out for this season. Jewett is a member of the U.S. Ski Team, and Wattenmaker will be racing in this weekend’s carnival, according to Dwyer. 

“I think they should do fine,” Dwyer said. “I mean we have a lot of veterans right now on the team that are really, really good skiers, and the freshmen have a lot to learn from them, but overall they should do just fine. I think they’ll definitely contribute and play a significant role on the team for sure.”

Katharine Ogden ’21 — the two-time reigning United States Collegiate Ski Coaches Association Women’s Nordic Skier of the Year — will be returning to the team this winter. She said she sees this year’s team as a cohesive group with the potential to succeed together.

“I think that we are, as a team, in a really good place in terms of team dynamics and team culture,” Ogden said. “I think we have a really positive community-esque feeling on our team — which is something that we’ve been working really hard to achieve — and I think that’s something that we’re looking forward to and hoping to have that translate into our racing as well.”

Ogden is a decorated veteran of the team — her list of accomplishments also includes three personal national championships and four All-America First-Team selections — and is optimistic going into the season.

“In terms of our Nordic team specifically, I think that our strengths are definitely in some of our longer races,” Ogden said. “I think our team as a whole really does well on especially the 15k to 20k races, and I also think that we are really lucky because our coach/wax tech, [Osgood] and [women’s Nordic skiing head coach Cami Thompson Graves], are really good at waxing, so I think another strength of ours is definitely going to be the class skiing days because they are so good at giving us a really good kick for those days.”

The team recently traveled to the beautiful Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, for its two-week long December training trip, according to Ogden. Ogden said she was not in attendance because she was racing in the U.S. SuperTour, a professional ski circuit that determines who qualifies for the World Cup. 

The team will find itself traveling more often this winter, as Dartmouth’s Winter Carnival will be carnival-less.

“This is probably the first year in over 100 years that we haven’t been on the calendar,” Osgood said. “The EISA ... has recently changed the way that hosts are allotted for each season.”

Osgood explained that there are 11 schools in the EISA but only six race weekends. Dartmouth, Middlebury College and the University of Vermont have historically always been on the race calendar, but Osgood said that this past fall other teams in the league applied pressure to the EISA to change its carnival rotation rule. As a result, schools now have the opportunity to host only three out of every five years, meaning Dartmouth will not have a home race this season.

While the Dartmouth Skiway will not be hosting any EISA events this season, Ogden is looking forward to traveling to other carnivals, particularly this weekend’s season opener.

“I always love the opening carnival, just because everyone is so jazzed up and ready to go, and there’s so much good energy, good people you haven’t seen in a while on other teams, which is really cool,” Ogden said.

Both Ogden and Dwyer noted their enthusiasm for the Vermont Carnival, which will take place on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25 in Stowe and Craftsbury, VT. The season starts this weekend with the Harvard Carnival in Craftsbury, VT and Waterville, ME.

“We’re just really excited to be into Carnival season and racing,” Osgood said. “This is something we’ve been preparing for since May, and it’s nice to finally get out on snow in the competitions that people have highlighted as the biggest ones of the season and be ready to go and see where we stack up.”

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