The alpine teams take to the slopes this weekend for the first half of the Vermont carnival in Stowe, Vt. (the Nordic teams will finish the competition on Feb. 1-2). Both the men and women have two of their three skiers back that competed at the NCAA Championship last year, plus have a bevy of new talent to raise the bar for each squad.
On the men’s side, coach Peter Dodge welcomes back sophomores Ben Morse and Hunter Black, who both had impressive rookie debuts last year. Morse, named to the All-EISA First Team and a co-captain this year, was the top-ranked skier in the East in the giant slalom, winning the event at both the New Hampshire and Vermont carnivals. Black posted three top-10 finishes in the various carnivals and six in the top 15.
Also returning on the downhill slopes is another sophomore in Trace Cummings Smith as well as senior co-captain Evan Diamond, who missed last season due to an injury. All of these skiers will be pushed by a trio of freshmen in Martin Anguita (Chilean national slalom champion), Robin Overing from New Brunswick and Sam Macomber who hails from Plymouth, N.H.
For the women, senior tri-captain Annie Rendall headlines coach Chip Knight’s squad as Dartmouth’s top-ranked NCAA qualifier in 2012. The native of South Burlington, Vt., posted nine top-10 finishes and stood on the podium three times during carnival season to earn All-EISA Second-Team honors. Sophomore Abby Fucigna won’t be competing with her older sister, Erin, both of whom completed the Big Green’s alpine NCAA qualifiers a year ago, but has a year of experience under her belt. She finished 15th or better in all but two of the carnival races last season.
Coach Knight has a strong stable of newcomers — Maisie Ide of Minneapolis, Lizzie Kistler from Santa Rosa, Calif., Anna and Sara Kikut from Burlington, Vt., and Rose Caston from Salt Lake City make up this quintet — joining the mix as well and are expected to contribute heavily to the team effort.
The cross country teams, which produced more points at the NCAA Championship last year than any others, will rely a bit more heavily on veterans, but also have some rookies in the mix. Coach Cami Thompson Graves will oversee both squads with Ruff Patterson taking a personal leave of absence this year, but the squads expect to be among the elite once again.
The women will have to overcome the loss of Sophie Caldwell and Erika Flowers to graduation, but have plenty of talent to fill those voids. Junior Annie Hart earned All-America honors in both the classic (first team) and freestyle (second team) races at NCAAs last year and is already off to a strong start this year having qualified for the U23 Championship Team while competing at the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championship last week.
Other members of the Big Green women’s team to compete at the U.S. Cross Country Championship were sophomore Carly Wynn, who finished among the top 30 in the 10K Free and the 20K Classic, as well as freshmen Mary O’Connell of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Corey Stock of Lincoln, Mass., both of whom qualified for the World Junior Championship Team. With the return of junior Isabel Caldwell, plus another Steamboat Springs native joining the fold in Haley Piske, the women will be a strong unit once again.
The men’s squad is led by senior captain Sam Tarling, the most decorated member of any of the teams. Two years ago he was the freestyle national champion and has been a first-team All-American in freestyle each of the past two years. The three-time All-East and NCAA Team skier finished no lower than ninth in any race last year with nine stops on the podium, and last week qualified for the U23 Championship Team while finishing fifth in the 30K Classic.
Last year Dartmouth also featured Eric Packer, a two-time Academic All-American, three-time All-American and four-time All-East skier and Gordon Vermeer, another All-East first-teamer, but both have graduated. Juniors David Sinclair (All-East Second Team and sixth in the 30K Classic at the U.S. Championships), Erik Fagerstrom and Steven Mangan, as well as sophomore Silas Talbot are all ready to step up into more prominent roles, not to mention senior Alex Schulz who also competed at the U.S. Championship last week, earning a top-25 finish in the classical sprints.
Speaking of the U.S. Championships, Dartmouth also featured a number of alumni making their mark in Utah. Rosie Brennan ’11 won the women’s 10K Free, took third in the classical sprints, fourth in the 20K Classic and seventh in the freestyle sprints. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess ’09 took top honors in the freestyle sprints and third in the classical sprint, while Michael Sinnott ’07 took second in the latter event, 11th in the freestyle sprints and 12th in the 15K Free. Among last year’s graduates, Sophie Caldwell finished on the podium in both the freestyle and 20K Classic, Erika Flowers placed eighth in 10K Free and Eric Packer seventh in the freestyle sprints. Both Caldwell and Packer qualified for the U23 Championship Team as well.