BOZEMAN, Mont. — After finishing the EISA Championships in second place, the Dartmouth ski team is set to compete at the NCAA Championships, hosted by Montana State, at the Bohart Ranch and the Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, Mont. Of the 21 teams competing, the Big Green are one of just five that will feature the full complement of 12 skiers, including last year’s individual champion in the 10K Freestyle, junior Sam Tarling (Cumberland, Maine).
Tarling, a first-team All-American last year for his victory at the NCAAs, is one of nine Dartmouth skiers that earned All-East honors from the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) this year, eight of whom will be racing in Bozeman. Another Big Green All-American from a year ago, senior Eric Packer (Anchorage, Alaska) will team up with Tarling on the men’s Nordic team, which won all but one race during the carnival season this winter.
The women’s Nordic squad is led by the top NCAA qualifier in the East, senior Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.), who earned a place on the podium in 10 of the 11 carnival races. In addition, senior Erika Flowers (Bozeman, Mont.) will be able to provide a little insider knowledge of the course to her teammates. On the slopes, freshman Ben Morse (Carrabassett Valley, Maine) anchors the men’s alpine team as the second-ranked East skier having won a pair of giant slalom races. Junior Annie Rendall (South Burlington, Vt.) paces the women’s downhill skiers with eight top-10 finishes and three stops on the podium this year.
Dartmouth enters the championships as the fourth-ranked squad as determined by Ski Racing Magazine with Utah ranked first, defending national champion Colorado second and Vermont third. Last year the Big Green finished third, their highest finish at the NCAAs since taking home the title in 2007. That 2007 crown is the only one won by a school from the East in the past 17 years. The last team from the East to win at a venue in the West was Vermont in 1989.
Having the full roster competing is certainly an advantage as only two schools have ever won the title with less than 12 qualifiers — Colorado in 2006 and Denver in 2008 both won with just 11 skiers. This year host Montana State and New Mexico have 11 entrants, and no team with 10 or fewer participants has ever finished higher than fifth in the final standings.
The championships begin on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. (EST) at the Bohart Ranch with the women’s 5K Freestyle, followed two hours later by the men’s 10K Freestyle. On Thursday the alpine teams will take to the slopes of the Bridger Bowl, beginning with the women at 11:30 a.m. (EST) and the men that afternoon at 1 p.m. (EST).
The events on Friday (men’s 20K Classical, women’s 15K Classical) will have the same time schedule as Wednesday’s races, while the women and men will alternate their two runs on Saturday, beginning with the women at 11:30 a.m.
All of the events will be streamed live on the internet free at NCAA.com.