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Dartmouth Skiing Makes Presence Felt

  • Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, competes during the second run of an alpine skiing women's World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Shiffrin won the slalom. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, reacts after winning the alpine skiing women's World Cup slalom in Killington, Vt., Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/27/2016 11:35:55 PM
Modified: 11/27/2016 11:35:58 PM

Killington, Vt. — From the slopes to the stands, the presence of Dartmouth College’s rich skiing heritage was felt throughout this weekend’s FIS Ski women’s World Cup at Killington Resort.

It starts in the U.S. ski team’s office, where two-time alpine Olympian and 1985 Dartmouth graduate Tiger Shaw is president and CEO. It continues at the top of the mountain, where freshman Tricia Mangan and commit Nina O’Brien competed.

Among the spectators were dozens of Dartmouth alumni — many of them former Big Green skiers — who utilized the event as de facto reunion.

Group photos, hugs and plenty of reminiscing highlighted the Dartmouth contingent’s experience while absorbing the first World Cup to be staged in the Eastern U.S. since 1991.

“The history of skiing at Dartmouth is so broad and so deep… I must have talked to 30 (former) Dartmouth skiers on Saturday,” said Shaw prior to Sunday’s first run. “It’s really cool. A lot of us still live in the mountains, in one part of the country or another. For so many of us to be able to reconnect here is pretty special.”

Many of Shaw’s peers and teammates from mid-1980s classes were on hand, including Chan Morgan, Ken Graham and Jory Macomber, the latter now the head of school at Burke Mountain Academy. That’s the alma matter of Mikaela Shiffrin — a former Lyme resident who won a world-record-tying 10th consecutive slalom start on Sunday — as well as a seemingly endless bevy of skiers who go on to ski or enroll at Dartmouth, including O’Brien.

“This is what I love about skiing so much, not so much the competition as the lifelong friendships you develop,” Macomber said. “There are so many people here that I’ve kept in touch with but haven’t seen in a number of years. It’s nice to see everyone’s faces again.”

Macomber’s son, Sam, is a 2016 graduate and former Dartmouth ski captain who now works in Boston but will help coach the BMA team on weekends this winter. He mingled as a spectator Sunday with fellow Big Green alums such as 2011 graduate Ace Tarberry, a former World Cup skier who was recently honored as a member of Dartmouth’s Wearers of the Green (essentially the school’s athletics hall of fame).

“It’s been so much fun to take in this atmosphere with my own peer group, and also to see all the talented Dartmouth skiers here from different generations,” Sam Macomber said. “Getting the World Cup here is probably the best way we can do that.”

While the loudest cheers this weekend naturally came for reigning slalom Olympic gold medalist and World Champion Shiffrin, there was no shortage of support for U.S. teammates O’Brien and Mangan. Neither qualified for the second run during either Saturday’s giant slalom or Sunday’s slalom, falls by each ending their first slalom runs Sunday morning.

“I never want to get to the bottom and know that I could have gone faster,” said Mangan, an engineering major who began classes at Dartmouth last spring. “It’s definitely disappointing that I fell, but just to be out here competing with the best in the world is something I’m really excited to do.”

Many of the former Dartmouth skiers on hand were female, including 1981 graduates Gay Bird and Joanie Crane Barthold, the latter a two-year U.S. ski team member who lives in Lyme.

O’Brien, who has yet to begin classes at Dartmouth, said she hopes to continue the school’s legacy of strong skiers.

“I definitely already feel like a Dartmouth girl when I’m out there,” said O’Brien, whose sister, Audrey, is a Dartmouth sophomore and Big Green skier. “I’ve gotten a lot of support from people like Tiger Shaw and that whole community.”

Shiffrin Woke up Nervous: Before tying former Swiss great Erika Hess for third-most all time with her 21st World Cup slalom win, Shiffrin had ominous feelings about the day ahead. “I woke up nervous and worried about all kinds of things that I shouldn’t have,” said Shiffrin to lead off a a post-race news conference. “It was not very enjoyable.”

Shiffrin later said she was uplifted by a crowd estimated to have approached 30,000 for the weekend, calling it the best she’s ever skied in front of.

“You could hear them from the start of the race. I love that,” she said. “I feel like they carried me down the hill.”

Shiffrin, who also tied Croatian Janica Kostelic by winning her 10th consecutive slalom start, shared a tearful embrace with her grandmother, Pauline Condron, after the race.

“There have been a lot of races that she hasn’t seen. I’ve wanted to race in front of her for a long time,” Shiffrin said. “The best part was, I knew she didn’t care if I won or lost.”

Historic Occasion: The nearly 30,000 fans attending this weekend’s races were a historically large turnout, according to U.S. ski team Vice President of Communications Tom Kelly. “It’s safe to say this was one of the most widely viewed women’s World Cup slalom events ever, and the athletes know that,” Kelly said. “There are a couple of other venues that have been similar, including Flachau (Austria) and Jasna (Slovakia), maybe a little more, maybe a little less, but normally they’re one-day events. To have this kind of turnout over two days makes it one of the biggest weekends ever for the sport.”

Upper Valley contributions: Volunteers and staff over the weekend included countless Upper Valley residents. Among them were stadium announcer Peter Graves, of East Thetford, media assistant Rick Beda, of Bridgewater Corners, and Woodstock resident Reese Brown, a U.S. ski team photographer.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.




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