Elite Team Preview: Stratton Mountain School

Alex KochonJuly 9, 2012
Stratton Mountain School T2 Team coach Gus Kaeding (r) watches his athletes during an over-distance rollerski in Cambridge, N.Y. Erika Flowers (second from right) and Sophie Caldwell wait for Andy Newell, Eric Packer and Sun Valley skier Mike Sinnott.

Note: This one of several previews in a quick-and-dirty series on U.S. elite teams. We asked coaches to send their 2012/2013 rosters and tell us what’s new for the coming season. We will be publishing additional reports over the next few weeks. Teams are presented in no particular order.

The SMS T2 Team (l to r): Erika Flowers, Eric Packer, coach Gus Kaeding, Andy Newell, Skyler Davis, and Sophie Caldwell. Not pictured: Jessie Diggins. (SMS courtesy photo)

Team: Stratton Mountain School T2 Team (SMST2)

Coaches: Gus Kaeding (first year; former assistant at Central Cross Country, or CXC)

Roster: Andy Newell (U.S. Ski Team), Skyler Davis (U.S. Ski Team), Eric Packer;

Jessie Diggins (U.S. Ski Team), Sophie Caldwell, Erika Flowers

Who’s new: Everyone, in the first-year elite program. Read more about how it got started here.

Who’s missing: N/A

Top results last season:

Jessie Diggins racing to a ninth-place finish in the 10 k classic on March 18 at the World Cup finals in Falun, Sweden.

Diggins made serious waves in her World Cup debut, placing fifth in a 10 k skate race in Rybinsk, Russia, and sixth in a skate sprint in Moscow. The Midwest native and CXC transfer also went in the history books with U.S. women’s team, anchoring its fifth-place 4×5 k relay in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. At 20, Diggins makes the jump up to the USST A-team this year.

A USST veteran with two Olympics under his belt, Newell came into his sprinting form in March. The Stratton alum had a season best of sixth in a classic sprint in Drammen, Norway, and was 15th at the preceding World Cup classic sprint in Lahti, Finland. Back in January, he notched seventh in a classic sprint in Otepaa, Estonia.

A second-year USST Development Team (D-team) member who also comes from Stratton, Davis battled mononucleosis early in last season, and had a top result of fifth in the classic sprint at U.S. nationals.

Packer celebrates placing third at U.S. nationals in the 30 k classic mass start on Jan. 6 in Rumford, Maine. (Photo: Flying Point Road)

Packer, Caldwell and Flowers recently graduated from Dartmouth, where they achieved significant results on the NCAA scene.

In addition to finishing fourth in the 20 k classic at NCAA championships, Packer won the SuperTour Finals classic sprint, was third at U.S. nationals in both the classic sprint and 30 k classic in Rumford. He further proved his depth at U.S. Distance Nationals in Craftsbury, Vt., where he was seventh in the 50 k mass start.

Another Stratton alum, Caldwell made the podium twice at NCAAS, placing second in a photo finish in the 15 k classic and third in the 5 k skate. At U.S. nationals, she was sixth in the classic sprint at U.S. nationals. Flowers, who comes from Bozeman, Mont., was a two-time All-American at NCAAs this year.

Coach’s comment:

After Packer, Caldwell and Flowers graduated Dartmouth in early June, the SMS team started training together in southern Vermont. Diggins will join the team on July 11 for a few weeks and Davis was out for a brief period getting his adenoids removed (similar to tonsils; located in back of nasal cavity), but Kaeding was excited about their progress so far.

Stratton skiers Andy Newell (r) and Eric Packer (l) during a 50-plus-kilometer rollerski with Sun Valley’s Mike Sinnott on June 24 near Cambridge, N.Y.

“The first month of organized training has just been about establishing a good comfort level between everyone,” Kaeding wrote in an email. “I’ve been getting to know athletes’ strengths and weaknesses and the athletes have been getting used to the organizational styles of [program director] Sverre [Caldwell] and I. So far everything seems to be going very smoothly allowing us to focus on the training and minimize the extra stuff.”

Note: The Stratton Mountain School elite team landed a title sponsor last week and will henceforth be known as the Stratton Mountain School T2 Team. The T2 Foundation is a nonprofit that supports athletes in Olympic snow sports, including nordic, alpine and freestyle.


Other previews: Bend Endurance Academy | Craftsbury GRP | CXC | Far West | Maine Winter Sports Center | Methow OD | Sun Valley SEFXC Oregon

Related: With Elite Team, Stratton Aims to Create ‘Hotbed of Skiing’ in Southern Vermont

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Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (alex@fasterskier.com) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.

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