Twelve athletes with ties to Dartmouth competed at the XXII Olympic Games in Sochi, and three came home with medals. Dartmouth Now followed the Olympic efforts of all twelve and reports here on their results. Read more Dartmouth Olympic coverage on Twitter at #DartmouthSochi, media coverage, and athlete bios.
February 22: Nolan Kasper ’14 Finishes 13th in Men’s Slalom
While most eyes were on giant slalom gold medalist Ted Ligety in the men’s slalom event on Saturday, it was Nolan Kasper ’14 who came through the two difficult runs as America’s top finisher at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center. Kasper was 13th, with a combined time for his two runs of 1:44.22, while Ligety did not finish after skiing off the course during his second run. Warren “Trace” Cummings Smith ’15, skiing for Estonia, finished 26th with a combined time of 1:57.28.
Of the 117 skiers who started the event, Kasper and Cummings Smith were two of just 43 skiers to successfully finish both runs. Among the skiers who did not finish was David Chodounsky ’08, who was the 2005 NCAA slalom champion and a member of Dartmouth’s 2007 NCAA Championship team. One ski racer told ESPN that the course was “borderline unsportsmanlike,” while another called it “brutal.”
“Most of the top guys in the world blew out, so definitely a tough course,” Kasper told USA Today afterward. “There were combos going into combos, just things that threw you off rhythm. There was nothing to let you get into a groove. You’re kind of fighting the whole way. Some people made it work and a lot of people didn’t.”
Kasper, who was a member of the U.S. Ski Team prior to enrolling at Dartmouth, has not represented Dartmouth in intercollegiate competition because he competes on the World Cup circuit during the winters. The Warren, Vt., resident has had 10 top-10 finishes in World Cup, and finished 24th in slalom at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
After finishing 45th in the giant slalom earlier in the week, Cummings Smith told The Boston Globe, “It’s been a dream come true for me. I’m totally psyched about the opportunity to come to the Olympics this year. I’m super-excited about being able to put my skills on display against the world’s best and see what the benchmark is and where I want to be in four years’ time. I’m trying to soak it in as much as possible and stay focused at the same time.”
On February 13, Gus Kenworthy, the son of Peter Kenworthy ’77, won silver in the inaugural men’s ski slopestyle event. Peter Kenworthy ’77 spoke with the Alumni Affairs Office about his son’s success in Sochi. “When he performed so well, and then stood on the podium with the silver medal, I felt a combination of relief, gratitude, excitement, and joy. Mostly, I was pleased that he was able to withstand the pressure and the publicity and showcase both his talent and his character.” Gus Kenworthy also received a lot of media attention for his efforts to rescue stray dogs in Sochi.
February 21: Another Historic Day for Dartmouth Biathletes and For Mikaela Shiffrin, Daughter of Jeff Shiffrin ’76
It was another historic day for the U.S. women’s biathlon team as the relay team of Hannah Dreissigacker ’09, Thayer ’10, Sara Studebaker ’07, Susan Dunklee ’08, and Annelies Cook finished seventh in the women’s 4×6-kilometer relay in 1:12.14.02/0+13. This was the best-ever Olympic women’s relay finish for the United States.
The 4×6-kilometer relay, which was the final women’s biathlon competition of the Sochi Games, could not have ended in more dramatic fashion, as Ukraine topped Russia for the gold medal. This was the first gold medal of the Sochi Games for Ukraine, and the crowd at the Laura Biathlon & Ski Complex roared as the team’s anchor Olena Pidhrushna crossed the finish line in 1:10:02.5.
“May this be of some cheer to the nation of Ukraine,” said NBC Sports web commentator Steven Robilliard during the medal ceremony, alluding to the violent protests between the police and protesters in Kiev in recent days.
Dunklee led off for the U.S. and gave the Americans a strong start (each competitor skied three loops and stopped at shooting stages after the first and second loop).
After her two shooting stages, she was in third place. “The team is at the best place we’ve ever been,” said Dunklee in an interview for the Team USA website. “It’s really cool to be a part of that.”
Dunklee then tagged off to Dreissigacker for the second leg. Dreissigacker skied strongly and was in fourth place at the second shooting stage, but she struggled with her shooting. “I felt good skiing, the shooting was not awesome, but at least I didn’t have a penalty,” Dreissigacker told Team USA. “We all love the relay. It’s really fun and it takes some of the pressure off yourself, but you also want to do well for your teammates. It’s a group effort and right now we are doing really well.”
Studebaker took over with the Americans in seventh place, and had great results in both shooting stages. She cleanly hit the five targets at each stage in 34 seconds and 32 seconds respectively, the fastest time for the U.S. team. By the time she finished her loops, the Americans were in fifth place. But Annelies Cook also had some shooting difficulties on the anchor leg, taking four penalties, and the U.S. ultimately finished seventh.
“Today was a really great day to make it (clean shooting) happen,” Studebaker told Team USA. “Seventh is our best finish ever, so to do that at the Olympics, that’s pretty good. To finish up this Olympic experience together with a solid result is fantastic.”
In the women’s slalom event, Jeff Shiffrin ’76 watched his 18-year-old daughter Mikaela become the youngest-ever Winter Olympic slalom champion today as she won gold in 1:44.54. She is also the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in slalom since 1972. Shiffrin had taken fifth in her first Olympic race, the women’s giant slalom on Tuesday, but showed why she won the slalom World Championship a year ago. The phenom’s time was 0.53 faster than silver medalist Marlies Schild of Austria and 0.81 faster than bronze medalist Kathrin Zettel of Austria. Shiffrin’s father, Jeff, is an anesthesiologist who skied on the Dartmouth ski team’s development squad.
Among the competitors in men’s slalom on Saturday are Trace Cummings Smith ’15 (skiing for Estonia), Nolan Kasper ’14 (who finished 24th in slalom in Vancouver), and David Chodounsky ’08, who was the 2005 NCAA slalom champion and a member of Dartmouth’s 2007 NCAA Championship team. According to the Team USA website, Chodounsky is “currently one of the top slalom skiers on the U.S. Ski Team, ranking only two spots behind Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety. Chodounsky is also the only person on the U.S. alpine team to have earned his college degree before making the team.”
We caught up with Dartmouth men’s alpine head coach Peter Dodge, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team, who had this to say about Chodounsky and the Olympics: “The Olympics, for the guys who haven’t been there, are quite an overwhelming experience. It’s a lot to deal with. It’s not a normal race. It’s like going to the Super Bowl; it’s not just another game. You’ve got to know how to focus and how to deal with the distractions. And that’s a big part of the challenge, especially the first time through.
“The Olympics always produce a few wild cards and so he (David) is in there. He’s a contender. There’s not a lot of pressure on him, so sometimes the underdogs have a chance. I think he has a good chance.”
February 20: Gillian Apps ’06 and Canadian Teammates Win Gold
In the first-ever overtime gold medal game, Canada fought back to beat the United States 3-2 in women’s hockey today, giving Dartmouth alumna Gillian Apps ’06 her third gold medal. This marks the fourth-straight gold medal for Canada, which overcame a 2-0 deficit and scored two goals in the last 3.5 minutes of regulation to send it into overtime.
It is already being called the best women’s hockey game ever, and it was also an incredibly physical game in the Bolshoy Ice Dome. While the Canadians have been described as the most physically assertive team on the ice, the American team had seven penalties compared to Team Canada’s five. Near the end of the first period, just as NBC commentator Jeremy Roenick described Apps as part of Canada’s “physical artillery,” an American player elbowed Apps to the ice following a face-off.
The Americans were just 3:30 away from winning their first gold medal since 1998, and almost scored on an empty net when they led 2-1, only to watch the puck bounce off the post. With 54.6 seconds remaining, Marie Philip-Poulin scored for Canada to tie the game at 2-2 and force overtime.
Both teams came out hard in the 20-minute overtime, but ultimately the Americans were done in by penalties. Former Hanover, N.H., resident Hilary Knight was called for cross-checking while chasing down Hayley Wickenheiser on a breakaway. Some have questioned whether a penalty shot should have been called instead, since Knight bumped Wickenheiser from behind to send her sprawling. But Knight ended up joining another American player already in the penalty box. Canada also had a player in the penalty box, but still had a four to three player advantage on the power play. With 11:50 remaining in overtime, Canada’s Poulin scored her second goal of the game, securing the gold medal for Team Canada.
Friday’s action includes the women’s biathlon 4×6-kilometer relay event at the Laura Biathlon & Ski Complex. Team USA includes Dartmouth alumnae Hannah Dreissigacker ‘09, Thayer ’10, Sara Studebaker ’07, and Susan Dunklee ’08, along with their teammate Annelies Cook. Friday’s event is the final women’s biathlon competition of the Sochi Games.
February 19: Trace Cummings Smith ’15 Makes His Olympic Debut
It was a historic day in the men’s giant slalom as Warren “Trace” Cummings Smith ’15 made his Olympic debut, skiing for Estonia, and Ted Ligety won the gold medal, becoming the first American man to win the Olympic giant slalom and the first to win two Olympic alpine gold medals. His brother, former Dartmouth skier Charly Ligety ’09, was on hand with several other Dartmouth alumni to see this historic performance.
Ligety topped the podium with a combined time for the two runs of 2:45.29. Cummings Smith finished 45th out of 109 competitors with a combined time of 2:57.42. The 21-year-old Dedham, Mass., native was one of two alpine skiers competing for Estonia, where his maternal grandmother still lives.
“I began racing as an American. I was born and raised in Boston, and at age 16 I decided to switch the country for which I compete to Estonia,” he told The Boston Globe prior to the Olympics. “My parents thought that it would be a really good way to both provide me opportunity as far as the races I could compete in, but also from a personal perspective, [with] my family having Estonian roots.”
Peter Dodge, the Dartmouth men’s alpine coach, told the Globe that Cummings Smith has a bright future. “If he gets the chance to compete at the Olympics in four years [in South Korea], which would put him in his prime, he would have this experience under his belt and he could go in there with a lot more confidence, a lot more experience, and have a chance to do pretty well.”
As for his hopes for the Sochi Games, Cummings Smith told the Globe, “I see it as a great opportunity, both to get in there and achieve my best possible result, but also as a platform from which I would be able to gain experience from this event. I’m hoping that it will be a good place to move forward from and come back in four years time, be a veteran, and have a lot more of a solid platform and more years of training under my belt, so I’ll be ready to be competitive for a medal.”
In her last cross country ski race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sophie Caldwell ’12 and her U.S. teammate Kikkan Randall finished eighth in the women’s team sprint classic final in 16:48.08. The Americans were one of 10 teams to make it through qualifying, and the duo was in contention in the early stages of the final race. But in a fierce battle, Team Norway’s Marit Bjoergen and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg came out on top, taking the gold in a time of 16:04.05. Kerttu Niskanen and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen of Finland finished just under 10 seconds behind and won silver, while Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter and Stina Nilsson won the bronze medal in 16:23.82.
Despite having only one year of international competition under her belt, Caldwell made a name for herself in Sochi and proved she belonged on the highest international stage. She posted the best finish ever by an American female cross country skier at the Olympics, finishing sixth in the cross country freestyle sprint event with a time of 2:47.75 on February 11. The psychology major has been writing about her Olympic experience and posting photos on her blog.
In biathlon, Hannah Dreissigacker ’09, Thayer ’10, and Susan Dunklee ’08 helped the U.S. to a ninth-place finish in the Olympic debut of the mixed relay event. The U.S. team, which recorded a time of 1:12:20.1/1+13, also included Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke. In her latest blog post, Dreissigacker explains exactly how a biathlon relay works.
Norway won gold with a time of 1:09:17/0+2. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, a member of the winning Norwegian team, collected his 13th Winter Games medal, becoming the most decorated winter Olympian of all time.
On Thursday, the United States and Canada face off in the highly anticipated women’s ice hockey gold medal game. This is the fourth time in five Olympics that the two teams have met in the championship game. A Canadian victory would give Gillian Apps ’06 her third Olympic gold medal. In a preliminary game on February 12, Canada beat the U.S. 3-2.
February 17: Susan Dunklee ’08 Makes U.S. Olympic Biathlon History Again
On February 11, Susan Dunklee ’08 recorded the best Olympic sprint finish ever for a female U.S. biathlete when she finished 14th. Today, the Vermonter made history again at the Laura Biathlon & Ski Complex. Her 12th place finish in the 12.5-kilometer mass start event is the best ever Olympic finish for a U.S. female in any biathlon event. She was also the first American biathlete to qualify for the Olympic mass start, which is a competition that pits the top 30 women from earlier events against one another. For much of this afternoon’s competition, Dunklee was running in the top 10 and was as high as sixth place at the 3.4-kilometer mark.
Dunklee, whose time was 36:57.9, told USA Today, “I am skiing the strongest I ever have in my life, by a lot, these last couple of days. That’s a huge feeling. It gives me a lot of confidence. We have a couple more races here, but we also have another two weeks of World Cup racing after this. I’m real excited to see what I can do with that, especially now that I’ve had a few more experiences being in the chase pack and in medal contention. I think I can get on the podium one of these days.”
Belarus’ Darya Domracheva won her third gold medal of the Sochi Games in today’s mass start event. Dunklee was 1:32.3 behind Domracheva, and was slowed by missing three of 20 shots at the four shooting stages.
“I felt so good that first loop,” said the biology major from Barton, Vt. “It was just fun picking people off. You get in the zone where you’re just reacting to all the gaps and opportunities around you and making spur-of-the-moment decisions about when to go and when to tuck in behind people.
“The first (shooting) stage was great and the second, too. I know exactly what I did with that one miss. My finger pulled the trigger just a little bit too early, before I meant it to.”
Dunklee was in 10th place at the 11.5-kilometer mark, but she was unable to gain any ground. “I tried to drop people going up the big hill, but a couple of the strongest skiers in the World Cup stuck right with me, so that didn’t work quite as well as it normally does.”
In women’s hockey, Canada moved one step closer to a fourth consecutive gold medal by beating Switzerland 3-1 in the semifinal today in Shayba Arena. The Canadians, including Gillian Apps ’06, who is looking to score her third gold medal, will face the U.S. team in a highly anticipated final round game on Thursday. The U.S. beat Sweden 6-1 to set up the rematch between the two rival teams, who will battle for the gold medal for the fourth time. In a preliminary game on February 12, Canada beat the U.S. 3-2 in a come-from-behind thriller.
It’s a match-up that Apps and many hockey fans are eagerly awaiting. Prior to the start of the Sochi Games, she told the Valley News, “I would say most people who are hockey fans would know Canada and the U.S. should be in the finals. That will be a great game.”
February 16: Andrew Weibrecht ’09 Wins Silver in Men’s Super-G
At the start of Sunday’s super-G event, U.S. alpine team head coach Sasha Rearick yelled to Andrew Weibrecht ’09, “Let the wombat out of his cage!” And apparently he did, because the Lake Placid, N.Y., native skied the race of his life. Weibrecht won the silver medal in 1:18.44, just three-tenths of a second off the time of gold medalist Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, while U.S. teammate Bode Miller and Canada’s Jan Hudec shared the bronze with identical times of 1:18.67. These were the first alpine medals for the U.S. Ski Team at Sochi, and Weibrecht is now the fourth U.S. male to win multiple Olympic medals in alpine skiing.
It’s been a tough road for Weibrecht since he claimed the super-G bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. The last four years have been marked by four shoulder and ankle surgeries, a lengthy illness, and just one World Cup top-10 finish in 100 races. After falling during his slalom run in Friday’s super combined event, Weibrecht jokingly told the media on Sunday that he had considered retirement “as recently as yesterday.”
When he learned that he’d received the 29th starting position, a late slot when course conditions have deteriorated, Weibrecht later confessed, “I didn’t really think I had much of a chance because of my late start number.”
But the ski racer tweeted on Saturday that he was “Going to give it my best shot from #29 tomorrow. Thanks everybody for your support.”
After the race, Weibrecht told USA Today, “There’s so much energy here. I knew I had skied well. I knew I had a good run. When I came to the finish, I just sort of appreciated my run. I took a couple of seconds to see the time. I saw ‘2,’ then I looked away, and then I looked again.
“It’s been a rough couple of years. This makes up for it.”
Nicknamed “Warhorse” because of his aggressive, go-for-it style of skiing, Weibrecht said in his press conference afterward, “This is probably the most emotional day of ski racing that I’ve had. It’s been a pretty difficult four years and it’s one of those things where you can only be beat down so many times before you start to really look at what you’re doing. I didn’t know how many beat-downs I could take.”
As ESPN noted, Weibrecht’s struggles included being demoted to the “B” team last year by the U.S. Ski Team and being asked to shoulder some of his travel expenses. And after he earned finishes that ranged from 20th to 34th in four super-G events prior to the Winter Games, his spot on the team wasn’t even a certainty until the U.S. men’s alpine team was announced in January. “Today is a great affirmation of all the work I’ve done,” he said. “It really shows me that what I’ve been doing is worth it.”
When asked how Weibrecht, a ski racer who has never made the podium in a World Cup race, can win two Olympic medals, Bode Miller told ESPN, “He’s so much better than his results show. He’s one of the guys in World Cup who could consistently win in three events. The one thing he sort of loses out of is the intensity. I think that’s why he does so well in the Olympics, because everyone is focused on them and he lets his emotion out.”
As the Los Angeles Times reported, Weibrecht said, “I try not to focus on results, but I really needed a result to remind me, more than anything, that I’m capable of this.”
After receiving his silver medal, Weibrecht told the Adirondack (N.Y.) Daily Enterprise, “Just like last time (Vancouver) but a little better. It was the best run I’ve skied all year. It was totally clean from top to bottom.”
February 14: Tucker Murphy ’04 and Andrew Weibrecht ’09 Make Sochi Debut
Bermuda’s Tucker Murphy ’04 caused a stir when he wore Bermuda shorts in the Sochi opening ceremonies. Today, he could have skied in shorts in the men’s cross country 15-kilometer classic and no one would have questioned his judgement. With temperatures in the high 50s again at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center, the 32-year-old Murphy finished 84th in 49:19.9. Murphy, who studied at Oxford as a Bermuda Rhodes Scholar and earned a doctorate in zoology, is Bermuda’s lone 2014 Winter Olympian.
Switzerland’s Dario Cologna won the grueling 15-kilometer race in 38:29.7, claiming his second gold medal of the Games. His time was 28.5 seconds faster than silver medalist Johan Olsson of Sweden.
In men’s super combined skiing, it was a disappointing day at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center for Andrew Weibrecht ’09 and his U.S. teammates Bode Miller, the defending gold medalist, and reigning world champion Ted Ligety. Weibrecht was in 20th place with a time of 1:55.33 after the morning downhill event. However, the 28-year-old Lake Placid, N.Y., native took a tumble halfway down the slalom course in the afternoon and was unable to finish the race.
“I came off the top and felt like I skied okay up there; then you come onto a flat and pick up a lot of speed,” Weibrecht told the Adirondack (N.Y.) Daily Enterprise after the race. “Then I just kind of hooked my tip on a gate and was sliding. It was super-quick. I was in, and all of a sudden I was out.”
Weibrecht was not alone in having difficulties on the steep and challenging course, as 12 of the 46 skiers failed to finish or were disqualified in the slalom. He told the Adirondack newspaper that the course set-up wasn’t “really that rhythmical and (was) sort of an obstacle course. It’s a funky set. There’s a lot of opportunities to make weird mistakes. There’s not a whole lot of rhythm or flow to the course and that lends itself to a lot of DNFs (did not finish).
“The snow was a lot better than expected. It ran easier than I thought it would in my limited slalom training. It wasn’t icy at all. It was spring snow they had salted, so it got harder and kind of bound together. It was kind of granular spring snow.”
Switzerland’s Sandro Viletta captured the super combined gold medal in a surprise win, as he had never earned a top-three finish in a World Cup or a major championship, according to USA Today’s David Leon Moore. Miller finished sixth, fellow American Jared Goldberg was 11th, and Ligety was 12th. This marked the first time in three Olympics that a U.S. skier did not win gold in the super combined.
Weibrecht will compete again on Sunday in the Super G, the event in which he won a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games. When the Adirondack newspaper asked him how long it will take him to put today’s race behind him and focus on his next race, Weibrecht pointed to the spot on the course where he crashed and said, “By the time I stood back up, I think I was past it.”
In biathlon action, Hannah Dreissigacker ’09, Thayer ’10; Susan Dunklee ’08; and Sara Studebaker ’07 were among the 84 competitors who raced in the 15-kilometer individual today at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center. Dreissigacker was the top American finisher, placing 23rd with a time of 47:51.7 and two penalties (for each missed target a fixed penalty time of usually one minute is added to each skier’s time). Dunklee finished 34th with a time of 48:54.1 and five penalties, and Studebaker was 55th in a time of 50:53.4 with four penalties.
Dreissigacker told the TeamUSA website that she was satisfied after the event, which requires racers to hit 20 targets while alternately standing and lying in a prone position in the snow. “I’ve had a really up and down year,” said Dreissigacker, who has been chronicling the Olympic experience on her blog. “I’ve had some really good relay races, but I haven’t had an individual race come together. I’ve been waiting for that to happen. I’ve been working on the mental piece and that really worked today.”
Dunklee, who celebrated her 28th birthday yesterday, was coming off 14th place in the 7.5-kilometer sprint, the highest Olympic finish ever for a U.S. female biathlete. But her shooting wasn’t up to par today as she earned penalties at each of the four shooting stations. Belarus’s Darya Domracheva missed just one of the 20 targets en route to winning the gold medal in a time of 43:19.6. This is Domracheva’s second gold medal of the Sochi Games, as she won the 12.5-kilometer pursuit three days ago.
February 13: Cross Country Skiers Race in Spring-like Conditions
Sophie Caldwell ’12 finished 32nd (31:11.4) and Ida Sargent ’11 was 34th (31:15.1) today in the women’s cross country 10-kilometer classical-style race at the Laura Biathlon & Ski Complex. Remarkably, heat was the biggest factor, as the temperature was 54 degrees at the start of the race. The Associated Press (AP) wrote that many competitors “tired in the heat,” and described “some (skiers) trudging slowly through the mushy snow in the sunlight.” One skier was “going so slowly up the final hill that race officials could walk alongside her.”
“The conditions are pretty crazy,” Caldwell told AP, which noted that she was one of two skiers wearing a sleeveless outfit. “It’s definitely the warmest and softest I’ve skied in in a long time.”
Sargent told the Valley News, “I was really relaxed and excited for the race today. It was good to have one out of the way. But perhaps I should have been a little more nervous. Maybe some more nerves would have helped me out there. In the back of my mind, I was hoping for something a little better, but I think everybody is. I’m just really happy to be here. … It’s really been a fun week so far.”
Caldwell later posted to Twitter a photo of herself in her sleeveless race attire, and tweeted, “According to Norwegian TV, @sadzarue (U.S. teammate Sadie Bjornsen) and I raced in ‘bikinis’ today. Not quite, but that was tough and tropical!” The New England edition of the February 14 New York Times includes a photo of Caldwell in her race attire. The photo accompanies the article entitled, “Slush and Short Sleeves,” which includes comments from Dartmouth alumnus Max Cobb ’87, the U.S. biathlon team president and CEO. Cobb, who has attended every Winter Olympics since 1992, tells the Times, “I’ve never seen it this warm at a Winter Games.”
Poland’s Justyna Kowalczy won the gold in 28:17.8, despite skiing on a fractured foot. The four-time Olympic medalist bested Charlotte Kalla of Sweden by 18.4 seconds.
Looking ahead: Biathletes Hannah Dreissigacker ’09, Thayer ’10, Susan Dunklee ’08, and Sara Studebaker ’07 return to action on Friday, February 14, racing in the 15-kilometer individual. Live coverage begins at 9 a.m. (EST). In the meantime, watch this TeamUSA video interview in which Dunklee talks about how she became a biathlete.
Alpine skier Andrew Weibrecht ’09 makes his Sochi debut on Friday in the men’s super combined (slalom and downhill). Weibrecht won bronze in the super G at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In cross country, Bermuda’s Tucker Murphy ’04 competes in the men’s 15-kilometer classic on Friday. Murphy finished 88th in the same event at the Vancouver Games in 2010, and is the only skier ever to represent Bermuda in the Winter Games.
February 12: Gillian Apps ’06 Leads Canada Past United States in Women’s Ice Hockey
A USA Today headline declared “USA-Canada is the ‘Stanley Cup’ of Women’s Hockey,” and Canada’s hard-fought 3-2 victory over the American team today certainly lived up to the hype in Shayba Arena. Team Canada’s 17-game Olympic winning streak was on the line as Gillian Apps ’06 and her teammates squared off against the reigning world champions in the final round robin preliminary game in Group A (both teams were 2-0).
The Americans scored first on a power-play goal by Hanover, N.H., native Hilary Knight, whose father is James Knight, Tuck ’84, and cousin is Chip Knight, Dartmouth’s director of skiing and head coach of the women’s alpine team. The U.S. held a 1-0 lead until the start of the third period, but the Canadians rebounded thanks to a pair of goals from Meghan Agosta-Marciano and a third goal from Hayley Wickenheiser. Apps had a shot on goal, but was denied by U.S. goaltender Jessie Vetter.
Both teams have clinched a spot in the semifinals on February 17, and the bitter rivals are expected to meet again in the gold medal game on February 20. The U.S. team won gold in 1998, the first year women’s hockey was played in the Olympics, and Canada has won gold at every Winter Games since. Apps, a member of the Canadian national team program since 2001, is hoping to add a third gold medal to her collection. In a pre-Olympics interview with the Valley News, she described her role on this year’s team: “I’m more of a grinder now, a role player. Obviously, I’m bringing my experience to the locker room.”
February 11: Sophie Caldwell ’12 Posts Best Olympic Cross Country Skiing Finish Ever by U.S. Woman
Two days ago, Susan Dunklee ’08 recorded the best Olympic sprint finish ever for a female U.S. biathlete. Today, her fellow Dartmouth alumna Sophie Caldwell ’12 posted the top finish ever by an American female cross country skier at the Olympics. “Olympics: U.S. skier Caldwell surprises” read The Salt Lake Tribune headline this morning after the two-time Dartmouth Skiing All-American finished sixth in the cross country freestyle sprint event with a time of 2:47.75.
A Vermont native whose grandfather (John Caldwell ’50) and uncle (Tim Caldwell ’76) were Olympic skiers, Caldwell was the lone American to qualify for the final round. Her semifinal heat was a scorcher, resulting in a photo finish with the eventual silver medalist Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway, who was judged the heat’s winner by .01 of a second. In the final, Caldwell fell after her ski got tangled with Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen’s pole and she ultimately finished more than 12 seconds behind gold medalist Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway.
U.S. teammate and fellow Dartmouth alumna Ida Sargent ’11 finished 19th. Sargent scored her first World Cup points just a year ago, and had several impressive results in 2013 on the World Cup circuit, including three top-10s in team sprints, two top-10s in individual sprints and two top-20s in distance races.
In biathlon today, Dunklee nearly gave the U.S. its first-ever Olympic medal in the sport. Competing in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit event, she was in contention for a bronze heading into the last of four shooting ranges. After she missed three of five shots, however, the resulting penalty laps pushed Dunklee down to an 18th place finish with a time of 31:11.6/+4 penalty laps. Sara Studebaker ’07 finished 51st in a time of 35:00.0/+5 penalty laps.
After the race, Dunklee posted to Twitter (@SusanDunklee), “Fantastic feeling on skis and 3 strong shooting stages tonight. Missed the last piece of the puzzle, but I sure love being in the mix!”
Studebaker tweeted (@SaraStudebaker), “Not the result I had hoped for, but 3 stages and skiing felt strong. And the fog stayed away until after the race! On to the next… #Sochi2014”
Looking ahead to the women’s ice hockey game between Canada and the U.S. tomorrow (this is the Group A final for the two teams, who are both 2-0), we asked Dartmouth women’s hockey coach Mark Hudak for his thoughts on Team Canada’s two-time gold medalist Gillian Apps ’06.
What are her strengths?
Gillian is both physically strong and an intense competitor. She brings a very physical presence to the Canadian line-up. I know she has worked extremely hard to be on the team again for this Olympics.
What role will she play on this year’s Olympic team?
I think people can expect to see her as a power forward. She’s not out there to make pretty plays; she’ll be the one who does what the coach and her team need her to do. Gill is a real team player, always has been, in the sense of putting team first. At the same time, don’t be surprised to see her net a couple of goals. She’s got a great shot and if you give her a little time and space, she’ll find a way to put it on the back of the net.
Will she win her third gold medal?
I think it’s going to be tough. It should come down to the Canadians and the U.S. team again, barring an unforeseen upset. The U.S. is fast and loaded with talent. I do think Canada is going to have to play a pretty physical game to keep the U.S. off its game, and Gill may be a big part of that.
February 10: Gillian Apps ’06 Helps Guide Canada to Win Over Finland
Gillian Apps ’06 and the Canadian women’s ice hockey team are now a perfect 2-0 after their victory over Finland today. Canada will take on the United States on Wednesday in its third and final preliminary game. On Tuesday, cross country skiers Ida Sargent ’11 and Sophie Caldwell ’12 make their Sochi debut in the women’s sprint free qualification. In biathlon, Susan Dunklee ’08 and Sara Studebaker ’07 will compete in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit.
February 9: Susan Dunklee ’08 Has Best Women’s Biathlon Finish for U.S.
U.S. biathlete Susan Dunklee ’08 tweeted today: “14th in my first Olympic race. Hit 9/10 targets and missed the very last one. Next up: pursuit on Tuesday!”
What the Olympic rookie wasn’t able to include in her tweet due to Twitter’s 140-character limit were two key details: 1. Her 14th place finish in the 7.5-kilometer sprint (21.48.3, with one penalty) was the best Olympic biathlon sprint finish ever by a U.S. woman and, 2. Her performance also ties the best individual Olympic biathlon finish by a U.S. woman, set in 1994.
Dunklee’s U.S. biathlon teammates and fellow Dartmouth alumni Sara Studebaker ’07 placed 44th (22:59.5/+1), while Hannah Dreissigacker ’09, Thayer ’10 was 65th (23:55.0/+4).
Dunklee, whose father Stan competed in Nordic skiing in the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics, said she was “more nervous than I ever have been before a race. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. I always believed I was capable of it because of my role model, my dad.”
Studebaker, who had her best performance of the season, said afterward, “It is a really hard course and it’s hard to tell how hard you are going. You really have to work on pacing. I think it’s a good course and I’m looking forward to racing the pursuit.”
After her race, Dreissigacker said, “I’m really happy with how I was skiing, and I’m pretty happy with my first shooting with only one miss. But I had three missed in standing, which is too many for this competitive field.”
Dunklee and Studebaker return to action on Tuesday when they race in the 10k pursuit event. Read more about Dunklee’s Olympic experience, and see photos of Sochi and some of her fellow Dartmouth alumni at the Games, on her blog.
February 8: Hannah Kearney ’15 Earns Bronze in Women’s Moguls
She came to Sochi to defend her gold medal and was the top finisher in the second round of the finals. But a mistake on her final run, following nearly flawless runs by Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, meant the bronze medal instead for Kearney and gold and silver for the Dufour-Lapointes. Clearly distraught in her post-competition television interview, Kearney reflected on her Olympic career and discussed her disappointment in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer the next day.
“Athletes have emotions,” the Norwich, Vt., resident said. “We care and we train. But like life, things don’t always go as we plan. The go-big-or-go-home thing is huge in our sport. I did go for it. I didn’t lose the Olympics because I skied a conservative run or held back. And that’s a comfort.
“I had seven runs in my whole (Olympic career). One at Torino, two at Vancouver, and four here. I won four of them. Unfortunately they weren’t all medal rounds. But you know what? Not many people get bronze medals with mistakes.”
While Kearney has ruled out competing in a fourth Winter Olympics, she plans to ski for at least another year. She will resume skiing in the FIS World Cup tour on March 2, and then re-enroll in 2014 spring term classes at Dartmouth.
In women’s ice hockey, Gillian Apps ’06 helped guide Canada to a 5-0 victory over Switzerland in a preliminary round match-up. Canada is looking to defend the gold medal it won in Vancouver in 2010. Prior to the start of the Games, Apps told Reuters, “We’re coming off a great performance in Vancouver and we have come here to try and defend the gold medal. And with that comes its own added pressure but it’s something that I think anyone in the tournament is looking to do.”
February 7: Tucker Murphy ’04 Leads the Way for Bermuda
Cross country skier Tucker Murphy ’04 is Bermuda’s flag bearer in today’s opening ceremonies at Fisht Olympic Stadium. Murphy also carried his country’s flag—and wore the country’s trademark shorts—during the opening ceremonies at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
February 6: Hannah Kearney ’15 Top Qualifier in Women’s Moguls
The first day of competition in Sochi included the women’s moguls qualifying event, which featured reigning Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney ’15. Kearney finished at the top of the pack, with a score of 23.05, advancing to Saturday’s finals, where she could become the first moguls skier to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. In an interview with the Associated Press, Kearney says, “You have expectations of how you should feel when it’s the Olympics. Then when you don’t, you think, ‘Am I not excited enough? Am I too excited? Am I relaxed? Am I nervous?’ Ugh. Too much thinking, time to go skiing.”
February 3: Photo Op
Before heading to the Endurance Village, U.S. Biathlon team physician Ed Merrens ’88, MED ’94, MHCDS ’12, snapped a quick photo of Hannah Dreissigacker ’09, Thayer ’10, Sara Studebaker ’07, Susan Dunklee ’08, and their Olympic teammate Lanny Barnes. The women are in the hunt for the first-ever Olympic medal for the U.S. in biathlon. The women’s biathlon events begin on Sunday, February 9. Merrens is the chief medical officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and a team veteran of the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah; Torino, Italy; Vancouver, Canada, and now Sochi, Russia.