Thursday, January 2, 2014

EISA Alumni Making Strides Through World Cup Field

Simi Hamilton (1, center) leads the final heat of Tour de Ski Stage 3.
(Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

LENZERHEIDE, Swizerland. — Several EISA alumni have posted impressive results at Nordic skiing's highest level this season.

With the absence of several big names from the FIS Tour de Ski, the US Women's Nordic Ski Team needed an individual from further down their depth chart to help lead their pre-Olympic campaign. On New Year's Eve 2013, Sophie Caldwell (Dartmouth '12) added another strong bid to take that mantle. Caldwell, in her second season of World Cup racing, qualified 9th, then made her way through the tournament-style sprint heats to her first appearance in the final heat of a World Cup sprint race. She finished a career-best 6th on the day, the latest in a string of outstanding sprint results this season. After four stages in the Tour de Ski, she sits in 16th—the highest-ranked American in the field.

Not to be outdone, Simi Hamilton also had the race of his career in Lenzerheide. Coming off the final corner with 150 meters to go in the mens' finals of Stage 3, Hamilton (Middlebury '09) made a powerful move to the outside of Italian sprint specialist Frederico Pellegrino, and pulled away to win in convincing fashion. It was an historic victory for American skiing, as Hamilton became the first American male ever to win a World Cup stage race, and the first American male to win any World Cup race since February of 1983.

Caldwell and Hamilton are part of an increasingly successful and growing group of EISA alumni making waves on the World Cup circuit. Former Big Green skiers Ida Sargent (Dartmouth '11), Rosie Brennan (Dartmouth '11), and Mikey Sinnott (Dartmouth '07) have all earned World Cup starts this year. On December 21, Sargent skied to 10th at the classic sprint event in Asiago, Italy, adding to the impressive number of top-10 finishes that the USST women have amassed this season.

Also of note are biathletes Lowell Bailey (Vermont '05) and Susan Dunklee (Dartmouth '08), who have already been chosen to represent the United States in the Winter Games in Sochi this February. Bailey and Dunklee have seven top-30 IBU World Cup results between them this season, and are helping drive the US Biathlon team to new heights.

The Tour de Ski resumes tomorrow (January 3rd) with a 15/35km freestyle pursuit finishing in Toblach, Italy. The IBU World Cup season also continues tomorrow a 7.5/10k sprint in Oberhof, Germany.