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  • José da Silva

Course Spotlight: Oak Hill

The Oak Hill trails in Dartmouth are just about a five-minute drive from campus, and an enterprising student (or faculty) can get there on skis. Here’s how. Start at the north end of Occum Pond, by the DOC House on groomed trails. These groomed trails will take a skier most of the way across the old golf course, eventually turning into ungroomed trails across Pine Park. At the end of the ungroomed trails, cross Route 10 to connect to the Garipay Field trails and more groomed snow. Follow these until a final road crossing behind the elementary school, and you’ve connected to groomed trails on Oak Hill.

“The proximity to campus is the key feature for us,” says Brayton Osgood, head coach for the men’s Dartmouth squad. “Beyond the ski team, Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff ski at Oak Hill throughout the winter.”

The Oak Hill trails are maintained by the Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center, which maintains more than 30km of trails from Oak Hill to the Garipay Field trails skied by the enterprising skier. Along with the Dartmouth College community, Oak Hill is the primary location for other local skiers and the Ford Sayre Nordic team.

Skiing is engrained into life at Dartmouth, says Osgood. It has been the main winter focus for more than 40 years, he says. Over the phone, he describes the weather. It’s 35 degrees and sunny. Blue skies. If it stays like this on Friday, says Osgood, the EISA will have more than its usual spectators. Students and faculty from the college will make the trek down to the course to support the Big Green.

“Being close to campus makes it easy for non-skier students to come out and cheer,” says Osgood.

Though the location in Hanover, and proximity to campus, is special, it also has its drawbacks. Snowfall in Hanover is inconsistent at best, and low at worst. Often, the Dartmouth team doesn’t get to host a carnival at its home trails. When they do, though, the feeling is even sweeter, says Osgood. “We are just so excited to be able to host Dartmouth carnival,” he says.

The Dartmouth team has been off to a hot start this season, seeming to constantly be nipping at the heels of UVM. Jasmine Drolet, a freshman for Dartmouth, has competed in two carnivals and racked up four podium finishes and three first-place finishes. Another freshman, Luke Allan, on the men’s side, has also been skiing well. Across three carnivals, Allan has not finished outside the top ten, his worst race a tenth-place finish in the 10km classic at the Henchey Cup at Craftsbury. He has podiumed once, a third place in the freestyle sprint at Craftsbury.

Racing on their home trails, Dartmouth seem poised to have a particularly strong carnival weekend. Can Drolet continue her run of podium finishes? Will Allan keep building on a competitive carnival season and notch a second top-three result, or maybe even get his first carnival win?

Check back in this weekend for the race recaps!


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