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Among the best of the best

  • Hanover ski jumping coach Tom Dodds sticks bits of Christmas trees on the end of the ramp before the start of the NHIAA state ski jumping at Oak Hill in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. The greenery helps the skiers with depth perception and their timing when they hit the end of the ramp. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photograph — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2021 1:24:15 PM
Modified: 8/26/2021 1:24:19 PM

HANOVER — Tom Dodds has been involved in ski jumping around the Upper Valley for over 50 years. He was recognized for his achievements in the sport earlier this month.

Dodds was inducted into the American Ski Jump Hall of Fame on Aug. 14 in Red Wing, Minn.

“It’s humbling to be inducted,” Dodds said. “Having had the opportunity to go out to Red Wing, visit the ski jumping museum and see all the names on the board of the previous inductees, it makes it all the more humbling for me to be part of that crew.”

Dodds was nominated for the honor based on his years of dedication to the sport, both as a competitor and a coach. He competed in national events in his youth, and went on to lead Hanover High to four ski jump state titles as coach.

Dodds grew up in Hanover. He competed for Ford Sayre ski jumping as a junior and a master, and later for Hanover High and Williams College. He recalled his Hanover teams winning state championships in cross country skiing and ski jumping four straight years from 1972-75. He made the junior national team as a high school senior, and skied in Ishpeming, Mich., for the 1975 junior nationals as a Nordic combined skier.

Dodds graduated from Dartmouth Medical School in 1982 and became an anesthesiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He went back to Ford Sayre to coach ski jumpers from 1999-2013. He did the same at Hanover High from 2009-14 and came back for a currently ongoing second stint in 2017.

Dodds has enjoyed coaching, and said that’s kept his love for ski jumping alive. He particularly enjoyed sharing the sport with his son, Cooper, who graduated from Hanover High in 2008 and competed for the school team during his high school days.

He also relished sharing his hall of fame induction with his son. Cooper Dodds is now a photographer specializing in capturing ski jumping, and he was asked to create an art exhibition for the museum.

So because he was traveling with a collection of prints for the museum, the Dodds family drove to Minnesota instead of flying. Father and son spent the drive reminiscing.

“It was particularly enjoyable for me to be able to sit and ride with him in the car and think back on all the trips we’ve had over the years related to ski jumping,” Tom Dodds said. “All the road trips to Lake Placid, and we’ve been to Norway together; Planica, Slovenia, together. And a wild exhibition up to the Nansen Ski Jump (in Milan, N.H.). When your kids are engaged in the sport, it really touches the heart.”

Dodds became a successful coach — his Hanover teams have consistently been competitive, finishing second at this year’s NHIAA Division II state championship after winning back-to-back titles the previous two years.

While in Minnesota, Dodds enjoyed exploring the museum while he was there for the induction banquet. When he went through the list of previous inductees, he saw names of some of his previous coaches, as well as many people he said were better ski jumpers than him. He felt honored to be on that list.

His athletes appreciate his years of experience. Mason Winter, a 2019 Hanover graduate and former ski jump captain, was excited when he learned of Dodds’ hall of fame induction. He said Dodds advocated hard for his kids, fighting for better equipment and snowmaking machines so they could jump earlier in the season.

Winter added that Dodds knows the right way to push people out of their comfort zones to help them improve. He said Dodds stacks up well to other ski jumping coaches he’s worked with.

“I’ve competed a little bit around the U.S., and whenever I go back and jump at Hanover with Tom, I always love it,” Winter said. “Tom’s an amazing coach who knows what to say, when, and doesn’t give you too much information at once. (He) allows you to focus on a couple of things at a time to help improve your jumping.

“Comparing him to some of the other coaches who I’ve either had coach or seen coach others, I would say Tom’s exceptional.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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