Rec League Legends
I write this column with a heavy heart. As most of campus knows, the ski team and the Dartmouth community lost Torin Tucker ’15 — a teammate, fraternity brother and friend who was competing in a sport he loved. Both my and Austin’s thoughts and prayers go out to all of Torin’s teammates, friends and family as they process this loss. We both hope that campus can pull together to celebrate the life and legacy of a peer and lend support to the Dartmouth Ski Team.

This week, the Legends competed against the men’s alpine ski team, and since it involved being outside in the winter, Austin said I was on my own. My good friend Ben Morse ’14 decided I should come out to the mountain to take a few runs and “hit some gates,” whatever that means. I got to the Skiway around 9 a.m., with blue skies, a full sun and freezing weather, even before wind chill. I see the team training, gliding around in skin-tight speed suits that can’t possibly provide the warmth needed at 2 degrees. Full disclosure: I don’t ski. I mean, I did once or twice growing up, but I was pretty bad and didn’t really enjoy it. I grew up by the beach. What do you expect? But seeing as snowboarding was akin to surfing, I picked it up freshman year, and I have enjoyed it so much that I never took a winter term off. So instead of racing Ben on a pair of skis, I chose to play to my strength and bring my board to the mountain. Well, let’s just say that I got some funny looks from both skiers and coaches. After introducing myself and letting them know why I was there, they sort of understood what was up, but they still couldn’t believe a snowboarder would want to race on a giant slalom ski course. I didn’t see the big deal, so after I took the lift up, Ben suggested I take a practice run and go through few gates. I soon realized that the gates (posts that you ride around, or shoulder through, if you’re really good) hurt really badly when you hit them. The skiers apparently wear all sorts of pads and arm guards to lean through the gates, and I didn’t quite have the same equipment, so I decided I would give the gates some respect. I then noticed that the gates are pretty far from one another, and it requires skill just to make it around them, let alone maintain some speed. Finally, as I watched the skiers take their runs, I noticed they are really fast — like have-no-fear fast, break-50-mph fast, which is almost D’Agostino-fast (still waiting for her to start racing cheetahs). After my practice run, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do to make it down the hill without tearing my ACL or ruining the Legends’ hard guy reputations, which was goal number one. The next challenge was completing the course in time, which Ben explained would be more difficult than I had expected. If I couldn’t complete the course in under 90 seconds, I would register a DNF, or Did Not Finish. I wanted to beat that timer. The men’s team skiers registered about one minute and two seconds, with one of Ben’s runs clocking 1:01.7. The run felt slow at the top, likely because the gates were far apart and the mountain had a series of sharp drops, so I needed to keep my speed under control. But after getting around, and I mean well around, the first few gates, I shifted into a better zone, increased my speed, and felt like I was on track to register a sub-90-second performance, when, I missed a gate, which in real skiing would mean disqualification. But, I kept charging forward. By the end, I had missed only two of what felt like 100 gates and made it in what I thought was a reasonable time. Then Ben came whizzing by me and stopped at the clock, which was spitting out our times. I held my breath. The news was disappointing — I received a DNF. I am currently contesting the result with the International Ski Federation, and I hope that it will not hurt my point totals too badly. That last sentence was kind of a ski joke, or so I’m told. The cards were stacked against me, and I couldn’t quite pull it off, but I still had a great time. The team could not have been nicer, and visiting the Skiway is a great opportunity. With great races coming up this Friday and Saturday, I encourage you to get yourselves up there. Ski or ride some for yourself and show the ski team that the Dartmouth community supports them, now more than ever.
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