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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth skiers find success at NCAA skiing championships

John Steel Hagenbuch ’25 won the 7.5k freestyle, while Jasmine Drolet ’25 took first in the 20k freestyle.

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The Big Green returned from the 2024 NCAA skiing championships with two national titles — John Steel Hagenbuch ’25 won the 7.5k freestyle, and Jasmine Drolet ’25 took first place in the 20k freestyle. The team as a whole finished in fourth place.

From March 6 to 9, the University of Colorado hosted the 2024 NCAA skiing championships in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The championship races concluded the team’s 2023-2024 season.

On the second day of competition, Hagenbuch won the 7.5k freestyle event with a time of 19:09.2, 11 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. The win is Hagenbuch’s seventh individual win this season. While Hagenbuch won the 7.5k, he said that his best overall event is the 10k skate interval. He added that he likely performed well in the 7.5k freestyle because it was “just a little bit shorter” than the 10k.

On the last day of competition, Hagenbuch placed fifth in the 20k classic, positioning himself as a first team All-American athlete in two events for the second year in a row.

“Honestly, the titles are not that important to me,” Hagenbuch said. “I don’t feel any different than I did before … It was a really fun week in Steamboat and awesome to see all my friends ski for other colleges across the country, and Steamboat is … a really fun place to race.”

Hagenbuch attributed his win in part to his skis, noting that even skiers with “good execution”  are “inherently at the mercy of [their] skis.” Coaches and wax technicians apply glide wax, top coats and structure, “which are all seeking to increase how hydrophobic a ski is,” Hagenbuch explained. 

“A really big part of the sport is actually the skis themselves and how you prepare them before the race,” Hagenbuch said. “That day I had a great skate race.”

Drolet started her competition with a third place finish in the 7.5k freestyle. Director of Skiing and women’s Nordic head coach Cami Thompson said Drolet was “a little more nervous going into the 7.5k” because skating races are “not as much of a strength for her as classic skiing is.”

“Being on the podium in the skate race really gave her confidence that she could do it when the classic race came around,” Thompson said. “So that was really a good performance for her and definitely a confidence-building performance.”

On the last day of the championships, Drolet won the 20k classic with a time of 1:02:38.2, jumping from fourth place with just 1,000 meters to go and finishing three seconds ahead of second place.

“I noticed on the first lap that my skis were really fast on the downhills and thought as long as I can keep up with these girls on the uphills, I’ll be good on the downhills, and I can maybe win,” Drolet said. “I was slightly behind in fourth, and I knew that if I stayed relatively close … and then put in a last sprint, I could win.”

Drolet — who walked away from the championship with two first team All-American athlete finishes — said that she “was not expecting at all” to win the NCAAs.

“I don’t know if it really has sunk [in] or I have even realized what it means,” Drolet said. “When I think about it, I just think it’s crazy [that I won].”

The University of Colorado ski team won the championships with 569.5 points, ending the University of Utah’s four-year winning streak. Dartmouth took home fourth place with 399 points, 92 points behind Utah. This championship marks the first year since 2019 that the Big Green has finished higher than fifth place.

In the women’s 20k classic, Ava Thurston ’26 finished 12th with Emma Reeder ’25 right behind in 13th. In the men’s 20k classic, Hagenbuch placed first, Jack Lange ’26 placed 23rd and Luke Allan ’25 finished 24th, according to the NCAA website.

“By the time the races rolled around, the weather was perfect and the coaches nailed the skate skis,” Reeder said. “You could tell people were having fun and working hard. As a Nordic team, we did what we needed to do and were happy with our performance.”

The Big Green saw an All-American finish for each of its four ski teams. Men’s alpine was represented by Oscar Zimmer ’26 in the slalom and giant slalom. The women’s alpine team saw Zoe Zimmermann ’26 and Allie Resnick ’25 finish All-American in the slalom. Hagenbuch had All-American finishes in the men’s Nordic in the 7.5k freestyle and 20k Classic, while Lange finished All-American in the 7.5k freestyle. Women’s Nordic had Drolet in the 7.5k freestyle and 20k Classic.  

Hagenbuch said the team found success consistently throughout the season, despite several absences when teammates were away racing in non-Dartmouth competitions. Hagenbuch said he was absent in early February to compete in the U23 Skiing World Championships, where he placed 13th. 

“I was actually gone for a lot of the regular carnival NCAA season, but our team did really well this year even though a lot of our skiers were racing overseas, sick or injured,” Hagenbuch said. “I think that just demonstrates that we have a really strong team even though we might be missing our top skiers.”

Thompson said missing school for competitions was “definitely challenging” for skiers during the season. The team trained for the NCAA championship races during the winter term final exam period, she said.

“We work with our academic advisors and our athletes to try to be proactive … so that the impact is as minimal as it can be,” Thompson said. “These athletes are top athletes in skiing in the country and they want to win. They’re motivated, and they’re also motivated academically. They want to do well on both sides.”

Now that the 2024 season has ended for the Big Green, the team is already looking forward to next season. The 2025 men’s and women’s skiing championships will be hosted at Dartmouth’s Oak Hill facility for the first time since 2003, which Drolet said will be advantageous because there will be “no change of altitude.”

“I’m really looking forward to hopefully getting as many people as possible up to Oak Hill to watch that,” Hagenbuch said. “That’s going to be pretty unbelievable.”

Thompson said she is proud of the team’s performance this year, especially at the national championships where so much of their hard work was rewarded.  

“[Drolet] was only the second athlete I’ve had who’s been a national champion,” Thompson said. “It brings tears to my eyes now even just talking about it, because it’s just such a great feeling to see someone have a great race and be so excited about it.”