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Tales of a Californian on the Slopes

Of the four seasons we experience at Dartmouth, winter term is undeniably the grimmest – temperatures drop to scary subzero figures, half the student body flees off campus to warmer locations, and it’s nearly impossible to brave the outdoors without putting on at least three extra layers. Last year, rather than taking complete refuge indoors, I decided to embrace the weather by signing up for a particularly exciting sounding winter PE class – “Downhill Ski – Beginner.” As a freshman from sunny southern California, I had never lived in freezing temperatures, let alone attempted to get onto an actual chairlift. My first day of class (which, due to my questionable judgment during course election was on a Saturday morning), I grabbed my skis, poles, boots and helmet, made the long trek from the River cluster to the Hop, and got on the first bus to the Skiway. I had signed up with one of my best friends (also from California) and the two of us had a combined two days total of ski experience. Nevertheless, we were both excited to hit the slopes, and felt confident that we’d be experts by the end of week two. (Spoiler alert: neither of us… Read more »

Hammer ’12 skis in “Wyoming Triumph”

  For Max Ham­mer ’12, there is noth­ing bet­ter than a good day of ski­ing. It has been a major part of his life since he could walk, and will be until it is no longer phys­i­cally fea­si­ble, he said. Ham­mer re­cently shared a part of his ski­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with the Dart­mouth com­mu­nity at a movie screen­ing in Dart­mouth Hall. Ham­mer was one of a hand­ful of freestyle skiers to star in “Wyoming Tri­umph,” a movie about ski­ing in Wyoming, where Ham­mer grew up. KGB Pro­duc­tions made the movie in part­ner­ship with Trevor Hiatt, who had the idea for the film and or­ga­nized the group of skiers, in­clud­ing Ham­mer. “It was a new ap­proach to some­thing I al­ready loved doing and I just got re­ally ab­sorbed in it,” Ham­mer said. Un­like most ski movies, which fea­ture fast clips of ex­treme ski­ing, they wanted to cre­ate a more nar­ra­tive film about ski­ing in Wyoming. Every­one in­volved in the film had day jobs in ad­di­tion to their life as a skier, and they wanted to put to­gether a work not about pro­fes­sional ski­ing, but about reg­u­lar Wyomin­gites doing what they love. Over half of Wyoming’s land is pub­lic and the group cap­i­tal­ized… Read more »

Kickin’ and Glidin’: Victory at Last

Sweet vic­tory at last! With dom­i­nant per­for­mances by the men and women’s Nordic teams and the sea­son’s first win for the women’s alpine squad, we brought home the gold this past week­end at Mid­dle­bury Car­ni­val. It took five tries, but fi­nally un­seat­ing UVM is a huge re­lief. Fri­day felt pos­i­tively balmy, with tem­per­a­tures in the upper 40s and a light driz­zle. Try­ing to glide down­hill felt like ski­ing over up­turned vac­u­ums, but that didn’t keep us from rac­ing well. Eric Packer ’12 and Erika Flow­ers ’12 both went into the week­end ranked right near the top, but with­out in­di­vid­ual vic­to­ries. That all changed on Fri­day, as Packer and Flow­ers each took top hon­ors to lead the men and women to team vic­to­ries. Five of the top eight women had ‘DAR’ next to their names on the re­sults sheet, lead­ing to a rock-solid C-Stat of 42. Our Dart­mouth men weren’t too much worse, at 49. We re­turned to the venue on Sat­ur­day to con­test a sprint relay. EISA’s ver­sion of the sprint relay is sim­i­lar to the in­ter­na­tion­ally-rec­og­nized “team sprint,” one of the events at World Champs — see below. In a team sprint, two team­mates al­ter­nate ski­ing laps of a… Read more »

Kickin’ and Glidin’: Carnival Culture

Schools on the Eastern skiing circuit have varying amounts of pride in their respective Carnivals: Middlebury gets a few students out to watch its races, for example, but not many people made the drive from Saint Lawrence University to Lake Placid, N.Y., for the Saint Lawrence Carnival. Certainly nobody has a campus celebration that stands up to Dartmouth Carnival, what with the ice sculpture, Polar Bear Plunge and weekend festivities. So when the Dartmouth Carnival ski races roll around, Dartmouth skiers want to win. It’s that simple. We have a deep-seated pride in our school, our skiing and our Carnival, and that pride translated directly into stellar results this past weekend. Racing began with five- and ten-kilometer individual skate races for the women and men, respectively. Friday was sunny and frigidly cold, and the Oak Hill trails glistened with fresh corduroy grooming. Those of us not skiing in the Carnival itself mobilized early to mark the course, perform course control (i.e. make sure nobody cheated or got lost) and most importantly, to cheer. By the time the races got underway, temperatures were climbing and the sun filled a cloudless blue sky. Ah, paradise! The men raced first, turning in the… Read more »

Kickin’ and Glidin’: Trapps


“A lit­tle of Aus­tria in Ver­mont” reads the sign by the road up to the Trapp Fam­ily Lodge in Stowe, Vt. I’m not sure that the Green Moun­tains stand up to the Alps, but I think Trapps is the clos­est we come. The lodge sits up high, over­look­ing stun­ning val­leys on both sides, and the ski trails wind for kilo­me­ters through maple forests. In short, it’s a skier’s heaven. Every year we look for­ward to ski­ing the Uni­ver­sity of Ver­mont Car­ni­val at Trapps. It’s one of the three car­ni­vals that are held at the same place every year (the other three ro­tate through dif­fer­ent schools), so its fa­mil­iar­ity and pre­dictabil­ity are a re­lief. As I wrote last week, Trapps is the site of the up­com­ing 2011 NCAA Cham­pi­onships, so last week­end was a stel­lar op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice the course and get some rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. For the top guys on our team who will race at those cham­pi­onships, Fri­day’s clas­sic race was es­pe­cially im­por­tant. Fri­day was a 20K clas­sic mass start, one of the best (and tough­est) races on the col­lege cir­cuit. Mass start races are truly a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal than in­di­vid­ual starts — they re­ward fi­nesse while ski­ing in a… Read more »

Cold Toes: On the Battlefield

A day of ski rac­ing is sim­i­lar to a day on a bat­tle­field. We wake up at 6 a.m. and as­sem­ble our troops (the team), our gear (the equip­ment), our com­mand­ing of­fi­cer (the coach) and go out ready to fight. First, we need to make sure we have pro­tec­tive equip­ment for the bru­tal­i­ties we suf­fer out on the slope. In slalom, we need shin guards, pole guards, a mouth guard and a metal bar to pro­tect our face. In giant slalom, we need extra padding — called a “stealth” — on our arms and plas­tic guards on our fore­arms. All of this is cru­cial be­cause hit­ting 30 mm*** thick plas­tic poles at 50 miles per hour is the equiv­a­lent of run­ning at full speed into a wall and then con­tin­u­ing to run like noth­ing hap­pened. Think of your older sib­ling beat­ing you up when you were younger. It’s like that but one hun­dred times worse. So with­out these very nec­es­sary items, it would be like going to war with­out any armor. The other im­por­tant items on our check­list are our skis. Just as war isn’t fought with a set of but­ter knives, ski races aren’t won with your grandma’s skis…. Read more »