Dartmouth Skiway Is a ‘Pipeline of Olympic Talent’ and a ‘Jewel of a Mountain’
January 25, 2013 by Keith Chapman
One of only three college-owned ski mountains in the East, the Dartmouth Skiway provides an unusual educational and recreational outlet for students, faculty, and staff.
Just 14 miles from campus in Lyme, N.H., the 104-acre Skiway is perhaps best known as the alpine home to the three-time national champion Dartmouth Ski Team. But the Skiway, established in 1956, provides all sorts of opportunities for the Dartmouth community—from learning about emergency care, to becoming a ski instructor, to simply enjoying winter in New Hampshire.
The Dartmouth Skiway, with 30 trails and more than 100 skiable acres, is a valuable educational and recreational resource for the Dartmouth community. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)
Sky King is one of about 20 employees who teach at the Skiway’s Ski School. He says it is a “jewel of a mountain.”
“There is a lot of diversity of the terrain,” says King. And, he says, “you get a real community atmosphere here.”
With a 968-foot vertical drop, 31 trails of easy to expert terrain, and the McLane Family Lodge, the Skiway is a high quality ski facility just 20 minutes from campus. Chip Knight, director of skiing and the women’s alpine coach, says the proximity helps students balance rigorous academic schedules with athletic commitments.
“It is a huge asset to us, in that sense,” says Knight. In order to train, “any of our competitors have to drive at least 30 minutes, and most everyone is at least an hour or more away.”
Without the Skiway, the team would likely practice at Okemo Mountain, Mount Sunapee, or Burke Mountain—up to an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Hanover.
The Skiway plays host to races at Dartmouth’s Winter Carnival, and was the downhill site when Dartmouth held the 2003 NCAA Skiing Championships. The mountain has been the training ground not only for collegiate national champions, but also for Olympians.
A 2010 U.S. News & World Report article called the Dartmouth Ski Team “a pipeline of Olympic talent,” in part because “the program’s leaders have strongly encouraged their student-athletes to focus on school while still maintaining their athletic careers.” Dartmouth has sent athletes, including many skiers, to every winter Olympics since 1924. The Olympic presence is felt at the Skiway today.
“One time I was riding up a chairlift,” King says with a laugh, “and I was the only person on the chair that did not participate in the Olympics.”
For those who don’t become Olympians, though, the Skiway is a valuable training ground in other ways.
Dartmouth Ski Patrol, which has about 60 student members, provides emergency care at the Skiway. (Photo by Matthew Fulton ’96)
Through the Dartmouth Ski Patrol, students gain leadership and teamwork skills, learning about medicine and emergency care. About 60 students—15 from each class—train extensively in order to become patrollers and gain certification as Outdoor Emergency Care Technicians.
“I have learned invaluable medical response skills that I use both on the hill and off of it,” says Chris Gibson ’14, student director of Dartmouth Ski Patrol. “I think learning how to approach a medical dilemma will be a skill I will utilize forever.”
Matthew Fulton ’96, director of Dartmouth Ski Patrol, says the program offers important learning experiences.
“It is a real world experience, with real consequences—actual people getting hurt,” says Fulton, who also works locally as a firefighter and paramedic. “It is not something to be taken lightly.”
Fulton notes that some alumni have gone on to patrol at resorts like Deer Valley in Utah or Keystone in Colorado. Whatever career they pursue, he says, many alumni of the program say they feel better prepared for stressful situations.
Dartmouth students can take advantage of physical education courses, in which students learn to ski, snowboard, or telemark ski. Students can also receive training to become ski instructors.
For many students, the Skiway is simply a way to enjoy wintertime in New Hampshire, as half-day lift tickets go for as little as $10. One of these students, Daniel Durcan, MALS ’13, learned to ski this December.
“Well, I'm British, and as you may guess I didn’t come from a skiing area,” says Durcan. “The prospect of being in the region over winter was kind of daunting because I knew my friends would be on the slopes. For me, it is perfect.”
If it weren’t for the Skiway, Durcan says, “I probably never would have skied.”
For information regarding rentals, lift tickets, and more, visit the Dartmouth Skiway website.