Head men's alpine skiing coach Peter Dodge retires after 33 seasons

In November, Dodge announced his intention to retire following the conclusion of the competitive season.

by Lizzy Strapp | 4/8/22 2:00am

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Men's alpine head coach Peter Dodge '78 has been named Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Coach of the Year three times in his 30-year career at Dartmouth.

Source: Gil Talbot/Courtesy of the Dartmouth Athletics Department

A historic 33-year career of coaching the Dartmouth men’s alpine skiing team has come to a close for Peter Dodge. Described as a “realistic optimist” by fifth-year skier Kalle Wagner ’21, Dodge transformed Dartmouth skiing into the successful program it is today. 

In 1988, Dodge was in search of a coaching job after recently retiring from professional skiing himself. Dodge, who hoped to bridge the divide between collegiate and professional skiing, was offered the head coach position after applying for an assistant coaching role.

“That was the big change we were able to make,” Dodge said. “We really moved the program from a local competitive scene to something that was really relevant internationally.” 

During his time as an undergraduate  at the College, Dodge had to choose between skiing professionally and being a typical student. Competing on international tours and for the United States’ professional team during his winter terms, Dodge never raced for Dartmouth. He hoped to create an environment as a coach in which his young athletes could do what he could not — pursue both a career in skiing and graduate as a college student. 

According to Wagner, Dodge brought a high level of attention and dedication to each one of his training sessions — even grooming trails himself before his skiers arrived for practice. 

“He creates a really great training environment for us where everything goes to plan,” Wagner said. “We go out there and all we need to focus on is our skiing. We never need to worry about snow conditions. He tries to get all of that to the best of his ability.” 

More than the physical environment, Dodge prioritized his athletes as people. Peter Fucigna ’21, another fifth-year student, described how Coach Dodge supported him through an injury he sustained in training this past year. 

“Coach Dodge was incredibly helpful with my injury in British Columbia,” he said. “He would drive back and forth from the hospital to the races where the rest of the team was.” 

His optimistic, persevering attitude led Dodge to create an environment that encouraged success. “We were always going to go out and do everything we could to make it a good day,” Wagner said. 

Reflecting on his coaching experience, Dodge remembered one particularly rewarding season — 2007, the year his team took home the NCAA championship. 

“After we won that day, we came back and there was a hockey game going on,” Dodge said. “Around the second period our team just walked in with the national trophy over our heads and the place just went nuts — the hockey game actually stopped.” 

It was not just the awards that Dodge recalled when reflecting on his tenure as coach. Dodge described having the unique pleasure of coaching the sons of some of his past skiers, and said that in general, he has enjoyed the company of his skiers, their families and the Dartmouth community. 

It was a bittersweet moment for the men’s alpine team when Dodge announced his retirement. As Dodge himself said, “It was just time — 33 years is a very long time.” 

In retirement, Dodge hopes to travel and, of course, ski. 

“You know people think ski coaches get to ski a lot, but that isn’t the case,” he said. “I plan on doing some actual real skiing [now that I’m retired]” 

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