Thursday evening, Christine Booker, the women’s alpine coach, had the rare pleasure of driving a bus full of nordic skiers to the Ski-Way. Most of us had showered, and we looked pretty nice; only one athlete was wearing Carhartts, and they were clean. Christine had a pretty good deal.
The occasion was the annual ski team banquet. After hors-d’oeuvres, which mostly consisted of athletes talking to the same people they’d be spending time with on campus, we were served dinner. With my classmates Courtney Robinson and Audrey Weber, I joined Trevor Leafe and Peter Ankeny, freshmen alpine skiers. We told them they were lucky to get to hang out with senior ladies.
After finishing our chicken, pasta, and vegetables, the awards were presented. They ranged from obvious honors like various M.V.P types to more personal ones such as the Schneibs-McCrillis Award for “Skiing as a way of life”, the Class of 1978 Inspiration Award, and the Development Team award.
The presentations were often emotional for the coaches, Christine, Ruff Patterson, Peter Dodge, and Cami Thompson. In explaining how they chose recipients, they invoked stats (Peter cited exactly how many carnival points each of his alpine men scored over the season) and stories from their athletes’ earliest days on the team (Ruff pointed out that Brett Palm never talked as a freshman – how things change!).
When Development Coordinator Martin Benes presented his award, he said that he kind of wanted to take the giant silver cup home and eat Fruit Loops out of it.
Then the results of the voting for captains were announced. In some cases there were surprises, but mostly not: Haley Jones and Tina Roberts were re-elected after doing a great job leading the women’s alpine team, and, Ruff said of Pat O’Brien, “The only one who didn’t vote for this guy was me!” (He was joking.)
After that, there was only one thing left: senior speeches. While some of these speeches are always excellent, by the time ten or fifteen people have gone to the front of the room, they start to blend together. So this year, we nordies decided to do it differently.
All twelve of us went up together. Sean Jones brought his accordion, Max Hopkins grabbed his viola, and Brett had a hand drum. As they played a simple tune, we took turns pronouncing two-sentence summations of our time on the team, handing an old ski around with the speaking privileges.
Hannah Dreissigacker: “Last year, there wasn’t any snow, and the Dartmouth Carnival races were relocated to Stowe. Then it snowed about a foot. During our morning run, we built a snowman in front of the door to Cami’s house so she couldn’t open it. We were excited when Carnival was moved back to Hanover.”
Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess: “I’ve had a lot of nicknames over the years, but my favorite is from Ruff: Bam-Bam.”
Sean: “Ruff says, ‘We’re not here for a good time, we’re here for a long time.’ Well, I was here for a short time, and I had a great time.”
Sarah Van Dyke: “One time, it snowed two feet and we skied right out of Robinson Hall for practice. It was the best ski of the year.”
I said: “Cami, I’m really sorry for all the times I skipped yoga this fall. I promise I’ll make it up next year.”
Pavel Sotskov: “I think you all know that when I got here I was Russian. Well, now have my American citizenship. It’s been great to be on this team; nobody will ever tell me again, ‘For you, deefrint sport!'”
Hannah: “At our first captain’s practice sophomore year, we went to the rope swing in Pine Park. I fell in the shallow water and hyperextended my knee, and my teammates took turns carrying me piggyback all the way back to campus.”
Sarah: “As Cami always says, make sure you get in a really good warm-up, and if you’re doing a marathon, you should make sure to gorge yourself for a week first…”
Courtney Robinson had three pieces of advice: “First, bonk. You all carry anti-bonk, but you can’t appreciate it until you know what it’s like at the bottom. Second, when you fall when you’re rollerskiing, break your fall with your hands rather than your chin, although it is fun to have the same doctor stitch you up twice. Finally, jump in the river after morning practice.”
Brett: “When I got here, at the first team meeting, we had to say our names, where we were from, and an interesting fact. I was really worried about thinking of an interesting fact, so when it came to me, I said, ‘I’m Brett, I’m from Sheboygan [chorus: ‘where!’], and skiing is the best sport.'”
Dakota: “Another Ruff-ism, and I think this is particularly applicable given how this year went: Enough of this ****, I WANT MEDALS!”
Hannah: “Ruff, is there hope?” [NO]
Glenn: “Ruff, there is always hope!”
Finally, Max and Sean talked about how the ski team runs on R.S.T., or Ruff Standard Time, which is different than the time you find on most clocks. If you are late (even if you are on time by your own watch), you get told, “You’re late!” or, occasionally, you get left behind. In honor of R.S.T., they broke into a rendition of “Clocks” by Coldplay.
And that was it. Our time on the Dartmouth Ski Team had run out. Martin drove us back to campus for old times’ sake, doing a few laps around the roundabout before depositing us at Robinson Hall one last time.