Article written by Bruce Wood.
After graduating from Dartmouth in 2003 Brayton Osgood labored for a bit in construction. He clerked at a hardware store and painted houses. There was a stint as a paralegal. For a few years you could go to him in March or April and he'd help you fill out that dreaded 1030 or state tax return. He dabbled in web development and helped design an innovative software program.
Don't get the wrong idea. It's not like Osgood didn't know what he wanted to do in life after earning a cum laude BA degree in math from Dartmouth. Wondering about that would come later.
A two-time Nordic All-American, Osgood hammered and painted and did all the rest to pursue his passion as a professional skier after collecting his Dartmouth diploma. And the former Big Green captain enjoyed some success on the pro circuit. He made it to the Under-23 World Championship in his first year out of school, skied World Cup in 2009 and posted six top-10 finishes at the U.S. Nationals as a pro. His résumé also features three wins on the U.S. Super Tour.
But the Holy Grail for every skier, of course, is the Olympics. In 2006 there were 10 Nordic skiers selected for the American team and Osgood had a shot at making it. “I think I was 12th on the list,” he said without a hint of rancor about falling so short. Four years later he was ranked around 15th and there were even fewer openings on the team. No one had to tell him, the math major, the odds were against him.
“I knew I had to ski so much better than I ever had and everything had to go right for me to have a chance to make the Olympics,” he said. “I was 28, turning 29 and at that point you have a pretty good idea how good you are. I knew there wasn’t much chance I was going to become a successful World Cup skier. I pretty much knew then I was nearing the end.”
One of the legion of cross country skiers to come out of the Putney, VT feeder system developed by legendary cross country coach John Caldwell ’50, Osgood had been chasing his ski dream since high school. With the realization that the Olympics and success on the world stage was probably out of reach he was feeling a little lost.
He found his bearings in a familiar place, spending the 2011-12 school year coaching at his alma mater under Cami Thompson Graves and Ruff Patterson.
“I came back here because I didn’t have much direction at that point,” Osgood explained. “I wanted something to ground me, and this is a place I loved. The idea was to take a gap year to get ready for grad school.”
Osgood headed to Boston in the fall of 2012, earning a Master’s of Science in accounting/MBA from Northeastern before landing back in Vermont, as an audit associate for KPMG US.
“I definitely wanted to try life outside of cross-country skiing,” he explained. “I had been very heavily involved in the sport since I was in high school and I do have other interests. I had enjoyed coaching but I was wondering what else was out there. Was I missing something?”
What he was missing, he soon found out, was skiing.
Six months after joining KPMG he left to join AMP Sport, the Burlington startup for which he had spent five years helping develop software that helps track and analyze athletic training and performance. Whether it was AMP’s connection with skiing that drew him back to the company – the U.S. Ski Team is a client – or whether AMP drew him back to skiing is open to debate. What is indisputable is that as time went by Osgood found himself spending more and more time on and around the snow.
He started helping out as race-data manager for the New England Nordic Ski Association in 2012 and wax technician at various competitions. Last winter he went to Europe to wax for the U.S. Ski Team and helped coach and he was coach and head wax tech for the New England Junior National Ski Team.
“I had been steadily increasing my involvement and it had gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure I could do much more and keep my job and stay sane in the winter,” he said with a laugh.
He can’t remember if it was on the way to the season-ending USSA SuperTour Finals in Craftsbury Common or once he got there that he heard Ruff Patterson was stepping down after 27 years heading up the Dartmouth Nordic program.
“I had been interested in getting back into coaching, but I hadn’t been actively looking,” he said. “I knew at some point Ruff was going to retire and that I might have to make a decision about coming back. But all of a sudden it was, ‘The time to be thinking about that is now, not in a few years.’”
With texts and emails from his former teammates flying around, Osgood took a week or so to think things over. He couldn’t be any happier with the way it turned out.
“Ruff being here for 27 years?” he said. “Those are some huge shoes to fill, and a tremendous legacy to continue but I look forward to the challenge. I feel very lucky to have been part of it before, and now to be a part of it again.”
And Dartmouth feels lucky to have him.
To read more articles in our Fall 2016 PEAK Magazine, click here.
To learn more about our men's nordic skiing program, click here.