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Dartmouth Graduate Films His Passion for the Sport

Stephen Waterhouse, a 1965 alumnus of Dartmouth College, stands in his Hanover home with the skis his mother once used to ski Tuckerman’s Ravine. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Stephen Waterhouse, a 1965 alumnus of Dartmouth College, stands in his Hanover home with the skis his mother once used to ski Tuckerman’s Ravine. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

Hanover — While taking in today’s Dartmouth Winter Carnival activities, Steve Waterhouse invites the public to come inside for a little history lesson.

OK, make that a rather substantial history lesson.

Passion for Snow, a documentary film recently produced by Waterhouse, premieres today at 4 p.m. at the Loew Auditorum in the Black Family Visual Arts Center. Tickets are $10 each for the general public.

Part of the History of Dartmouth Skiing Project that Waterhouse began several years ago, Passion for Snow highlights the voluminous contributions Dartmouth College athletes, coaches and students have made to the realm of ski and snow culture n the last century.

From 1922 graduate John Carlton, the first American-born Winter Olympics skier, to the businessmen and entrepreneurs who continue to help shape the multi-billion dollar ski industry today, Waterhouse’s film attempts to to convey the wide scope of Dartmouth’s impact.

The film, 62 minutes of narrated vignettes, is a companion to Waterhouse’s 2010 book, Passion for Skiing.

“It’s hard for people to understand and appreciate the fact that so much in the industry and the history of skiing comes back to Dartmouth,” said Waterhouse, who lives near campus and was president of the Dartmouth Class of 1965. “There are Dartmouth people everywhere you look.”

The film begins with the famous cartoon clip of the Grinch, the famous character created by Dartmouth alum Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), sledding into Whoville.

“Ever wonder where Dr. Seuss got the inspiration for the Grinch’s wild, wintry ride from his mountaintop layer to the valley below?” the film’s narrator asks. “Maybe it came from his imagination, but more likely it was based on a place.”

That place is Hanover, as Whoville is transposed with a 1940s-era photo of the Dartmouth Green, with students toting skis on their shoulders.

The ski-friendly climate in and around Hanover is profiled, with segments about some of the more than 100 Winter Olympians who attended the school, including 1994 freestyle skiing silver medalist Liz McIntyre and 2010 moguls champion Hannah Kearney, a Norwich native and Hanover High graduate who now splits her time between Dartmouth undergraduate studies and international competition. Kearney credits Dartmouth Skiway and Hanover’s Ford Sayre ski program — named for the 1933 Dartmouth graduate — for ushering her into life as a skier.

“It took just a few weeks of training (with Ford Sayre) and I was hooked,” Kearney says in the film. “I’ve been doing the sport ever since.”

Andrew Weibrecht, a 2010 alpine combined bronze medalist, is also featured.

Dartmouth’s role in fostering adaptive skiing is highlighted, with a segment featuring Diana Golden, Class of 1984. After losing a leg to cancer at age 12, the Massachusetts native went on to win 10 World and 19 U.S. Championships as well as a gold medal in the giant slalom at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Former Dartmouth ski coach John Morton, a Thetford resident who coached Golden, is interviewed in the film.

“He talks about how he used to have the team run up the steps (in the Memorial Field stands) and in comes ‘The Golden Girl,’ as we call her, on one leg, saying she wants to be on the team,” Waterhouse recalled. “So she starts hopping up the bleachers. (Morton) still can’t talk about it without cracking up, and neither can I.”

A segment of the film is dedicated to the Tenth Mountain Division, a U.S. Army infantry that specialized in fighting in mountainous and arctic conditions. More than 100 Dartmouth students and faculty were recruited for the division, including longtime Dartmouth ski coach Walter Prager, making the college its single largest contributor of manpower, according to the film. The Tenth Mountain Division fought in the alpine mountains of Italy during World War II.

Newc Eldredge, from the Class of 1950, served with the division and is interviewed in the film.

“We had fixed bayonets, and that’s cold steel, baby,” Eldrdge states in Passion for Snow. “That means you might have to get close to the enemy.”

A retired entrepreneur himself, Waterhouse strives to highlight Dartmouth’s contributions to the ski industry as a whole.

Popular resorts such as New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley, Vermont’s Trapp Family Lodge and many others were either founded by or received significant design contributions from Dartmouth graduates.

That’s to say nothing for Dartmouth’s presence in the industries surrounding ski-resort communities, Waterhouse noted.

“Places like Vail and Aspen (both in Colorado) and Sun Valley (Idaho), there’s Dartmouth people everywhere, whether it’s doctors in the hospitals or people working in real estate, hospitality and retail,” he said. “Everywhere you turn, you find something that gets traced right back here.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.