Men’s alpine skiing head coach Peter Dodge retires after 33 seasons

In November, Dodge announced its intention to retire after the end of the competitive season.

by Lizzy Strapp | 08/04/22 02:00

1978 Men’s Alpine Skiing Head Coach Peter Dodge was named Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Coach of the Year three times during his 30-year career at Dartmouth.

Credit: Gil Talbot/Courtesy of Dartmouth Athletic Department

A historic 33-year career as coach of the Dartmouth men’s alpine ski team has come to an end for Peter Dodge. Described as a “realistic optimist” by fifth-year skier Kalle Wagner ’21, Dodge transformed Dartmouth skiing into the successful program it is today.

In 1988, Dodge was looking for a coaching job after recently retiring from professional skiing. Dodge, who hoped to bridge the gap between college and professional skiing, was offered the head coaching position after applying for an assistant coaching position.

“That’s the big change we were able to make,” Dodge said. “We really took the program from a local competitive scene to something that was really relevant internationally.”

While in college as an undergraduate, Dodge had to choose between skiing professionally and being a typical college student. Touring internationally and for the United States Pro Team during his winter tenures, Dodge never raced for Dartmouth. He hoped to create an environment as a coach in which his young athletes could do what he couldn’t: pursue both a skiing career and a college degree.

According to Wagner, Dodge brought a high level of care and dedication to each of his training sessions – even grooming the slopes himself before his skiers arrived for practice.

“He creates a really great training environment for us where everything is going according to plan,” Wagner said. “We go out there and all we have to focus on is our skiing. We never have to worry about snow conditions. He tries to get it all to the best of his abilities.

More than the physical environment, Dodge prioritized its athletes as people. Peter Fucigna ’21, another fifth-year student, described how Coach Dodge supported him through an injury he suffered in practice last year.

“Coach Dodge was incredibly helpful with my injury in BC,” he said. “He was going back and forth between the hospital and the races where the rest of the team was.”

His optimistic and persevering attitude led Dodge to create an environment conducive to success. “We were always going to go out and do whatever we could to make it a good day,” Wagner said.

Reflecting on his coaching experience, Dodge recalled a particularly rewarding season – 2007, the year his team won the NCAA championship.

“After we won that day, we came back and there was a hockey game,” Dodge said. “Around the second period, our team came in with the national trophy over our heads and the place went crazy – the hockey game actually stopped.”

It’s not just the accolades Dodge remembered when he reflected on his coaching tenure. Dodge described having had the unique pleasure of coaching the sons of some of his former skiers and said that he generally enjoyed the company of his skiers, their families and the Dartmouth community.

It was a bittersweet moment for the men’s alpine ski team when Dodge announced its retirement. As Dodge himself put it, “It was just the time – 33 years is a very long time.”

In retirement, Dodge hopes to travel and, of course, ski.

“You know, people think ski coaches ski a lot, but that’s not the case,” he said. “I plan to do some real skiing [now that I’m retired]”

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