Bobcats win 4 national titles; Aidan Ripp claims 2 individual championships
Until early March, Paul Smith’s College (PSC) had gone nearly 60 years without winning a national championship. Its 1963 golf team stood alone in school annals – until the recent 2022 U.S. Collegiate Ski Association National Championships in Lake Placid. Not only was the golf team’s achievement finally matched, it was exceeded in spades. Over the course of a week at Mount Van Hoevenberg, Bobcat Nordic skiers accumulated four national championships, three individual national championships, nine podium finishes as a team, 16 All-Americans, and seven Academic All-Americans.
After winning NJCAA championships in skiing, these were the Adirondack school’s first as members of the USCSA.
“It was a complete team performance on the national stage,” said PSC Athletic Director Jim Tucker.
The performances were made more noteworthy given the radical changes in weather conditions that saw the athletes compete in rain, warm temperatures, wind and blinding snowfall.
”Symbolic of the week, we literally stormed our way to our first-ever overall national championship,” remarked an elated Matt Dougherty, PSC Nordic ski coach.
Aidan Ripp captured two individual USCSA championships, starting with the 7.5-kilometer individual cross-country title that paced the Bobcat men to the team title at that distance. Ripp, who competed in the 2022 U.S. Olympic Trials in Nordic combined, was backed up by Gus Whitcomb in fourth place, and Logan Jensen in sixth.
Such was PSC’s depth, the team placed six racers in the top 14. In addition, the second group of three PSC skiers, had they been an official team, would have finished second.
The Bobcat women followed the men with Dolcie Tanguay leading the women in second place overall, followed by Jessie Church 13th, and Kaisa Bosek 23rd, to put the team in third place for the first podium finish for a women’s Nordic ski team from Paul Smith’s. Tanguay recorded the school’s best-ever Nordic result in this event.
The Bobcat men repeated the effort in the 15-kilometer classic mass start with Ripp skiing to his second crown, followed by Whitcomb ninth, Diego Schillaci 10th, and Jensen 11th. The team effort produced another USCSA gold medal.
The PSC women were also up to the task taking their second podium of the championship with Tanguay third, Jessie Church 10th and Bosek 23rd.
The week concluded with the mixed team relay with three men and three women skiing laps of 1.3-kilometers in freestyle technique. The Bobcat women, with Church, Bosek and Tanguay, started the effort in second place, opening a one-minute advantage over the next team.
The Bobcat men took over the race from there and skied away from the field, starting first with Whitcomb who established an early lead. He touched off to Jensen who kept his team at the head of the pack before turning it over to Ripp.
Despite his previous successes and level of exertion, Ripp blew the race open on his first of three legs and continued to ski away from second place University of Wyoming.
The Bobcats’ second relay team took fifth place.
“I’m blown away by both teams’ courage and tenacity,” added Dougherty. “Four races in five days is so hard. At the beginning of the season, the teams sat down and put pen to paper to create some goals and both teams achieved those goals. As a coach, you can’t ask for more from an athlete than to go out and focus on being their best. Winning championships is great and it’s a tremendous moment for this program and for the college, but I am most proud of who this team is and how they support each other. We are so thankful for all the support that helped us accomplish this from our parents to everyone at Paul Smith’s College, and so many more.”
While this marked the end of the season for a number of PSC skiers who can now enjoy the fruits of their labor, others will continue racing later this month as Lake Placid will host the U.S. Biathlon National Championships and the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup.
For more information, visit paulsmiths.edu.
Photo at top: Courtesy of Katie Kearney/Paul Smith’s College.