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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Home to Olympians and Family Skiing: The History of the Dartmouth Skiway

One writer explores the history of the Dartmouth Skiway and how it paved the way for success in collegiate skiing.

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Although many students may not know it today, Dartmouth was a pioneer of collegiate skiing: Dartmouth founded the first college ski team through the DOC in 1909, hosted the first downhill and slalom races in the United States and has sent 155 athletes to the Winter Olympics. According to “Passion for Snow”, a 2013 documentary that highlights the College’s importance in the development of modern skiing, “more members of the United States Ski Hall of Fame have been associated with Dartmouth and Hanover than any other institution or location.” 

A primary reason for Dartmouth’s enduring success on the slopes is the school’s lasting culture of winter recreation. However, students didn’t always have access to a legitimate skiing facility like they do today. In the early 1900s, students would flock to nearby hills to ski. The setups were largely relaxed and informal, but, soon, safety concerns began to build due to the makeshift trails. 

Dartmouth Ski Patrol Director Matt Fulton ’96 highlighted how the Dartmouth Outing Club paved the way for the formation of Dartmouth Ski Patrol.

“When the Outing Club used to race at Moosilauke and Tuckerman Ravine, they realized it was a good idea to have some folks trained in first aid,” he said. “So for some of those in early races in Tuckerman Ravine, the Outing Club provided a patrol of Dartmouth students that were trained in first aid.” 

According to Fulton, Dartmouth Ski Patrol started meeting in 1942, but the operation was abruptly interrupted by the onset of World War II. After the war ended, the patrol skied at Oak Hill and on the golf course before the opening of the Skiway.

“In the 1956-57 season, the Skiway opened in response to Middlebury starting the Snow Bowl [skiway]. The patrol shifted its focus primarily to the Skiway, and we’ve been here ever since,” said Fulton.

The Dartmouth Skiway got its name from a contest in which Dartmouth students and Upper Valley residents could suggest a name for the mountain. The incentive? “A lifetime pass for the use of the lift line,” according to a description of the contest in Rauner archives. 

While the Skiway is a smaller mountain compared to more commercial resorts in New England, it provides a local place to ski for the Upper Valley community.

“We’re here to provide a service for people who want a ski area that’s right in their backyard,” said Mark Adamcyk, the Skiway’s current director. “They’re just so excited to have the Skiway right here and be able to ski close to home.”

Still, under the right conditions, the Skiway can compete with the likes of any mountain.

“The ski area has so much potential, and when we get the weather and we get the snow and everything goes right, it’s as good skiing here as it is anywhere,” said Fulton. 

Avery Stern ’27, an instructor at the Skiway, noted the mountain’s convenience for students, as it can be the perfect place to unwind after a busy week of classes. 

“It’s really great to have access to a mountain and to have the buses that run, especially as freshmen when we don’t have cars,” said Stern. 

But while the Skiway has firmly cemented its place as a local haunt for students and Upper Valley residents, its presence and influence extends across the country. Adamczyk knew of Dartmouth’s skiing culture long before he became involved with the College in 2020. 

“The vice president at the resort where I used to work was a Dartmouth grad. So, I spent about five years looking at a Dartmouth Winter Carnival poster in his office in Colorado,” said Adamczyk.  

Yet, even with its vast influence and history of helping produce Olympic athletes, the friendly, welcoming atmosphere that the Skiway was founded on has continued. 

“It’s very laid-back. It doesn’t feel like this big massive ski resort impersonal kind of place, which is really nice,” said Stern.

Adamczyk echoed these sentiments, and mentioned that the best part about working at the Skiway is meeting all types of skiers.

“It’s a real community here,” he said. “And included in that community is a mix of Dartmouth students, core rabid racers who just want to go fast, and people who just love to come out and ski. When you’re in the more corporate ski world, you just don’t see that in the same way that you do here.”

While the Skiway itself has looked different since its inception, with changes like a new quad-chairlift, lodge and snow making capabilities, its central mission has remained intact. 

“Skiing down a mountain is one of the most fun things you can do,” said Adamczyk. “And through different programs at Dartmouth, people can come here and try it.”