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Dartmouth Skier Dies During Race

Torin Tucker (Ruff Patterson photograph)

Torin Tucker (Ruff Patterson photograph)

Torin Tucker (Ruff Patterson photograph)

Torin Tucker (Ruff Patterson photograph)

Craftsbury, Vt. — A Dartmouth College skier died while participating in a cross country skiing race Saturday after he collapsed during the event, according to school officials.

Torin Tucker, 20, a junior on the Dartmouth ski team, was competing in the 50K Classic Marathon at Craftsbury Nordic Center in Craftsbury, Vt.

College President Phil Hanlon alerted the school community in an email sent Saturday evening.

“We have been in contact with his family and share our deepest sympathies with them at this time of heartbreaking loss,” Hanlon wrote in the email.

The race was part of the 33rd annual Craftsbury Marathon, described by the New England Nordic Ski Association as “the largest ski event in the East” with up to 1,000 total participants annually.

Carly Wynn, a junior on the ski team who was competing on Saturday at another event, the UVM Nordic Carnival in Stowe, Vt., said the team had skiers in both races.

Wynn said she found out about Tucker’s death after she had finished her last race. They had been friends since arriving on campus their freshman year, she said, describing him as a perceptive person who showed care and concern for others.

“He was really friendly. He smiled just all the time,” Wynn said, remembering Tucker as having rosy cheeks. “He always asked me how I was doing. He always seemed like he cared what was going on with other people.”

Wynn said she remembered Tucker, like herself, as a “little bit of an outsider” at Dartmouth during their freshman years, “just kind of bopping around on the fringes of things,” which she felt contributed to his understanding nature. “He wanted to be happy and he wanted other people to be happy,” she said.

Lately, Wynn said, Tucker seemed to have found his place, including joining a fraternity, Chi Heorot. “He just seemed a lot more happy and comfortable” than before, Wynn said.

One of Tucker’s fraternity brothers, junior hockey player Jesse Beamish, said he and Tucker were part of a roughly 15-person pledge class to Chi Heorot over the summer. They all got to know each other well, Beamish said. “He was one of the most in-shape people I’ve ever met and I don’t know the whole story yet, but it’s a tragedy,” Beamish said. “He was always fun-spirited and in a good mood.”

Tucker grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho, and attended The Community School during high school, according to his biography on the Dartmouth athletics website.

Russell Spring, general manager at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, was on hand during the Nordic marathon, primarily helping to direct traffic. He heard over the event’s intercom radio that a Dartmouth athlete had collapsed on the course. “I talked with someone who was one of the first people to find him,” said Spring, of Craftsbury. “He said he came up over a hill and saw (Tucker) lying there and helped give him CPR.”

It wasn’t until after the race ended that Spring learned the news of Tucker’s death. “One of the rescue workers showed up and told us they were unable to save him,” said Spring.

Competitors race on 25- or 50-kilometer routes, normally traversing from Highland Lodge in neighboring Greensboro to Craftsbury Common.

Because of a lack of sufficient snow cover along the traditional route, the courses were re-routed and contained within a 12.5-mile loop in Craftsbury.

The tragedy dampened what is normally a celebratory event on scenic Northeast Kingdom terrain. Spring has a son who is roughly the same age as Tucker. “It’s really sad,” said Spring. “At the end of the day, people were coming in and talking about how great the conditions were, but most of them didn’t know what had happened. I have a son who’s 20, so this hits home for me.”

Tucker’s hometown, Sun Valley, Idaho, is the same as that of 23-year Dartmouth men’s cross country ski coach Ruff Patterson. Patterson could not be reached Saturday night.

Undergraduate deans, counselors and chaplains were available at Robinson Hall on Saturday evening, and counseling will be available again there today from 3 to 5 p.m., Hanlon said in the email. “We urge students, faculty, and staff who would like to speak to a counselor or chaplain, on their own behalf or out of concern for someone else, to go to Robinson or contact Safety and Security at 603-646-4000 at any hour,” he said.

The Dartmouth ski team has returned to campus and will not compete in the remainder of races scheduled for this weekend.

Valley News staff writer Tris Wykes contributed to this report. Maggie Cassidy can be reached at mcassidy@vnews.com or 603-727-3220. Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

CORRECTION

Torin Tucker, the Dartmouth ski team member who collapsed and died while racing at the Craftsbury Nordic Center on Saturday, was competing in a 50K event. The distance was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.