College winter athletes to compete at 2014 Olympics in Sochi

Between her hectic training schedule and frequent competitions, freestyle moguls skier Hannah Kearney ’15 can only spend a few weeks at Dartmouth per year. Kearney, who claimed the gold medal in moguls in 2010, hopes for another strong performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The College has sent more athletes to the Winter Olympics than any other Ivy League school — more than 120 students and alumni as of the 2010 games. In the most recent games, hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2010, 10 Dartmouth students and alumni competed in various disciplines, including ice hockey, biathlon and alpine skiing.

Twenty-five Dartmouth-affiliated athletes vied to qualify for the games this year. Three alumnae — Hannah Dreissigacker ’09 Th’10, Susan Dunklee ’08 and Sara Studebaker ’07 — will represent the U.S. biathlon team in Sochi. David Chodounsky ’08, Nolan Kasper ’14 and Andrew Weibrecht ’09 will represent the U.S. in alpine skiing. Sophie Caldwell ’12 and Ida Sargent ’11 will represent the U.S. cross-country ski team.

Some Dartmouth students and alumni will also represent countries other than the U.S. Tucker Murphy ’04 will represent Bermuda’s cross-country ski team, Trace Cummings Smith ’15 will represent Estonia’s Alpine ski team and Gillian Apps ’06 will play for Canada’s ice hockey team.

Cami Thompson Graves, the women’s cross-country skiing head coach, said that part of Dartmouth’s strong Olympic showing comes from the team’s long history. The College’s skiing program is more than 100 years old. Graves added that part of the program’s success is due to its commitment toward getting athletes involved at a competitive level.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on being the kind of program that supports intercollegiate skiing, but also skiing nationally and internationally,” Graves said. “We’ve encouraged our athletes to compete outside of college-level skiing.”

Weibrecht said in an email that his experience training with Dartmouth’s Alpine ski team inspired him to continue skiing and training.

The College’s annual Winter Carnival is also a large showcase for winter athletes. The weekend features competitions that typically serve as the College’s only home meet for skiers. Carnival serves as a pre-Olympic showcase because of its timing immediately before the international competition, according to the Boston Globe.

“It’s always been a place where a lot of people congregate from a lot of different places,” Graves said. “An effort is made to get people outside, enjoying the snow and cold, and not being scared of the cold. It’s also a pretty big deal for us to race on campus.”

Weibrecht said that although he has never skied at the Carnival, he has been impressed by the quality of the weekend’s athletes and races.

The College is flexible with academic scheduling for athletes who frequently need to leave for training trips and competitions, Graves said. In an interview with Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Weibrecht said that training for a while with the Dartmouth team “and just being in that atmosphere” reinvigorated him with determination to continue racing.

Kearney said she has a lot of respect for college athletes who successfully balance their sports with academics.

“I’m basically an all-or-nothing kind of person,” she said. “When I’m at school, I’m working my butt off. Right now, my athletic commitment is my main priority.”

Weibrecht said that in addition to taking classes over spring terms, he has also enrolled once each in the fall and summer.

The 2014 Winter Olympics are scheduled for Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.