For the fifth consecutive year, Dartmouth’s figure skating team returned from the U.S. National Intercollegiate Figure Skating Team Championships as national champions. Thirteen Dartmouth skaters made the trip to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the National Championship competition, held April 5 through 6 and sponsored by the University of Michigan.
The Dartmouth figure skating team with the 2008 U.S. National Intercollegiate Figure Skating Team Championship trophy. Coach Loren McGean ’92 is at the far right. (Photo by Lucia Schmidt)
“The Dartmouth skaters were amazing,” says coach Loren McGean ’92. “We are thrilled with this win.” Dartmouth tallied 91 points in capturing their first place finish, outskating second and third place teams from Indiana University and the University of Delaware, who finished just two points apart, with 75 and 73 points respectively. Contributing to Big Green’s numbers were top-3 finishes for nine of Dartmouth’s skaters, including event wins for Tenley Brownwright ’10, Hallie Damon ’08, co-captain Daniel Dittrick ’08, Rory Grant ’11, Alexandra Mahler-Haug ’11, and co-captain Nicole Newman ’08.
Brownwright’s national championship victory in the Junior Long program brings with it the honor of induction into Dartmouth’s Wearers of the Green. Grant was the team's individual high point scorer for nationals, earning a total of 18 points for Dartmouth. Each one of Dartmouth skaters contributed to the team’s point total, including Natalie Falsgraf ’10, who flew from her spring term studies in Rome to join the team in Ann Arbor for the competition.
Rory Grant '11—sister of former co-captain Taylor Grant '06—was Dartmouth's lead scorer at nationals with 18 points. (Photo by Ben Bostick)
Going into nationals, the Dartmouth team was far from complacent about the prospect of a repeat. “Every year is a new game,” says McGean. “We’re a small team this year, just fourteen skaters. The team welcomed three fabulous freshmen this fall,” she reports, “including Rory Grant ’11, who is the sister of former captain Taylor Grant ’06.” Besides, she notes, familiarity with the winner’s podium doesn’t relieve the pressure. “Two classes of seniors had never lost. That sets expectations very high. But the team thrives on pressure, and does extraordinarily well with it”—as the 2008 Championship results bear out.
“The team works hard to stay motivated, and stay grateful for what we have and where we are,” says McGean. Staying motivated is a unique challenge when the season is an extended one and competitions are spread out. Dartmouth competes in the Eastern Conference of the collegiate skating program overseen by U.S. Figure Skating, and participated in regional qualifying competitions at Boston University in February and at the University of Delaware in March. This season those two competitions and nationals comprised the team’s entire competitive schedule. Training continues throughout the year, with fitness workouts and dance classes supplementing the skaters’ time on the ice.
Figure skating is a club sport at Dartmouth, and relies on its Friends Group to supplement funds provided by the College. The team has seen particular support from the Class of 1964, which helped underwrite the 2007 championship meet that Dartmouth hosted, and from the Class of 1949, which has given continuing support to the team. The J. Michael McGean ’49 Endowment Fund, which was announced in a luncheon honoring Coach Michael McGean held in conjunction with the 2007 championship, brought the team its first permanent funding source. The senior McGean, who was the 1950 World Ice Dance Champion, now serves as the team’s coach emeritus. He continues to stays in touch with the skaters, notes Loren McGean. The team’s academic advisor, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences Ben Bostick, accompanied the skaters to Ann Arbor.
Figure skating helped draw senior co-captain Newman to Dartmouth. “I remember walking into Thompson Arena for the first time with Mr. McGean and thinking, ‘I will be so lucky if I get to skate here,’” she recalls. “Dartmouth having a nationally ranked figure skating team was a big part of what attracted me to the school.” Her fellow co-captain and senior Dan Dittrick—the team’s only male skater—has found being part of the team “an amazing experience. Being in such a unique position on the team has been a stepping stone for bonding and forging relationships with a variety of wonderful people, from skaters and students to administrators, alumnae, and alumni,” he says. “I’ve learned a great deal about the necessity of careful communication and cooperation.”
And both captains have great praise for their coach: “Working with Loren has made me reflect on and appreciate the effects that dedication and perseverance has on something about which you are extremely passionate,” says Dittrick. It’s just those qualities—passion, dedication, and perseverance—on the part of the skaters, their supporters, and their coaches, which have helped make the Dartmouth figure skating team national champions again and again.
By KELLY SEAMAN
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Last Updated: 12/17/08