Skiing At Middlebury

The members of the Middlebury College ski team compete in four disciplines: men’s and women’s alpine and men’s and women’s nordic. Fall training workouts include strength training, circuits, sprints, trail runs and hikes, biking, intervals, flexibility drills, roller skiing, soccer, and speedball. Using nearby ski areas for variety, the alpine team does the majority of its training at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl, and the nordic team trains at the Carroll and Jane Rikert Ski Touring Center at the Bread Loaf campus.

On-snow training begins over Thanksgiving break with a training camp in Colorado for the alpine team and at West Yellowstone, Montana, for the nordic team. In late December and early January, competition begins with NENSA regional races and the U.S. Cross-Country Championships for the nordic team and North American and Eastern Cups for the alpine team.

In mid-January, the carnival season begins and continues through the NCAA Championships in March. Middlebury’s top alpine and nordic skiers compete in the intercollegiate carnivals, while development teams ski on the USSA/NENSA circuit. Middlebury skiers compete at local, regional, national, and international levels, with several skiers having been selected to compete on Olympic teams.

Since the first trails were cut in 1934, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl has witnessed one of the richest skiing traditions in the country. From early snowshoe and obstacle races, Middlebury’s winter sports teams evolved into bona fide skiing powers, until the outbreak of World War II brought the program to a virtual halt.

After the Allied victory, several skiers from the famed 10th Mountain Division descended on the Bowl, along with a young fighter pilot from the Pacific theater named Robert “Bobo” Sheehan ’44. Sheehan coached the women’s team in 1946 and, thanks to the strength of the 10th Mountain Division recruits, led the Middlebury men in 1948 to their first of two consecutive national championship titles. In the same year Becky Fraser ’46, captain of the 1944 and 1945 women’s teams, became the first Middlebury skier to compete for the U.S. Olympic Team in the Winter Games at St. Moritz, Switzerland.

These banner post-war years inaugurated a steady flow of success for Middlebury skiing. Most notable has been Middlebury’s contribution to the U.S. Winter Olympic Team. Since 1948, 28 Panthers have gone on to coach or compete at the Olympics. Most recently, Dorcas Denhartog ’87 skied cross-country in her third Olympic appearance in Lillehammer in 1994.

Among other highlights, past and present:

  • Sara McNealus Radamus ‘79 became Middlebury’s first four-time All American in 1979. In Sara’s senior year, in addition to being the AIAW national giant slalom champion, she was named the Broderick National Collegiate Skier of the Year and Ski Racing’s National Collegiate Skier of the Year.
  • Liz Carey ‘80 became Middlebury’s first two-time national cross-country champion when she won back-to-back AIAW titles in 1977 and 1978.
  • Nate Bryan ’95, a three-time NCAA All-American and USSA giant slalom national champion for Middlebury, won the 1990 Europa Cup Finals giant slalom in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
  • Rob McLeod ’88, Heather Flood ’89, Brooke Laundon ’02, and Megan Hughes ‘08 each own NCAA slalom titles.
  • Penny Pitou ’60 became the first American to win a medal in the downhill at Squaw Valley in 1960.
  • Two-time Olympian John Bower ’63 was the first non-Scandinavian to win the renowned nordic combined trophy at Holmenkollen, returning to the U.S. team as nordic coach in the 1976 and 1980 games.
  • Leslie Smith ’83 was an Olympian in 1976 before coming to Middlebury, where she was a four-time All-American.
  • Hedda Berntsen ’03 has distinguished herself like no other college skier in recent memory. After her junior year at Middlebury College, she went back to her native Norway and made the national team. She established herself as one of the best slalom skiers in the world with top-five World Cup finishes and capped off a brilliant alpine career with a bronze medal in slalom at the World Championships.  She moved on to compete in Skier Cross competitions winning several  World Cups and was the Olympic Silver Medalist at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games (Vancouver) in the skier cross event.
  • Andrew Johnson competed on the nordic team in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 and the World Championships in ’03 and ’05.
  • Chris Waddell ’91, was a two-time Olympian and triple gold medalist with the U.S. Disabled Team.
  • Garrott Kuzzy '06 competed on the nordic team in the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010.
  • Simi Hamilton: '09 competed on the nordic team in the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010 and at the World Championships in 2011.
  • The Middlebury women won four national championships from 1976-80 under Coach Terry Aldrich.
  • Middlebury teams have ranked among the top three teams in the East since the 1950s, with skiers earning All-East and All-American honors each year.
  • Middlebury’s most recent national championships came in 1996, 1998 and 2012. The women’s alpine team won the NCAA slalom title in 1996, while the men’s alpine team won the NCAA giant slalom title under Coach Mark Smith in '98. At the 2012 NCAA Skiing Championships the men’s alpine team won the slalom title.
  • In 2010 first year alpine athlete Rob Cone’14 was named to the US Ski Team.  

The Middlebury College Snow Bowl
The third-oldest ski area in Vermont, the Middlebury College Snow Bowl has hosted college winter sports competition for nearly 70 years, and more recently has become, with the Rikert Touring Center, the permanent host of the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association championships each winter, during the Middlebury Winter Carnival.

The Snow Bowl’s two best-known trails, the Allen and Ross on the mountain’s north face, are classic New England race venues, hosting juniors, masters and college ski racers almost every week during the ski season.

The Snow Bowl, just half an hour from campus, provides on-snow training opportunities daily for the Middlebury alpine teams, and the ski area’s staff and volunteer workers have become justly famous for running high-quality competitions.

The Carroll and Jane Rikert Ski Touring Center
The Rikert Center at Bread Loaf Mountain, named for longtime College treasurer Carroll Rikert and his wife, Jane, features 40 kilometers of meticulously maintained nordic trails bordered by national forest. In 2010, Michael Hussey was hired as the full-time director of the Nordic Center adding programming and expertise to the staff at Rikert. A FIS homologated trail is scheduled for construction in the late summer of 2011. The Robert Frost Cabin, a national historic landmark, is located nearby. Close to the alpine Snow Bowl facilities and circling Middlebury’s Bread Loaf mountain campus, the Rikert trails meander through the pristine woods celebrated in Frost’s poetry.