Vermont has a legacy of top cross-country skiers that dates back to John Caldwell (who literally wrote the book on the sport,) and includes Olympic legend Bill Koch. Now, a new posse of top skiers is making Vermont their first (or second) home.
Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, Vt
Shaftsbury native Andy Newell was skiing at Prospect Mountain by age three and racing by five. He attended Stratton Mountain School and by 2001, was one of the top junior cross-country ski sprinters in the world. Newell has competed in three Olympics, and a month after the 2006 Olympics, he finished third in a World Cup sprint. It was the first World Cup podium for an American cross-country skier in 23 years.
Now 34 and married to teammate Erika Flowers, Newell finished fourth in the team sprint (with Simi Hamilton) in the PyeongChang test event in February 2017. This season, he finished second in an Alpen Cup race in December.
A strong freestyle skier, look for Newell to compete in the team sprint (freestyle) in PyeongChang and on the 4×10 km relay.
Paddy Caldwell, SMS Elite Team
Like his cousin Sophie, Patrick “Paddy” Caldwell comes from good genetic cross-country stock. His father, Tim, is a four-time Olympian and World Cup podium finisher. He grew up in Lyme, New Hampshire, skiing, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors with his two older sisters—and nine Caldwell cousins. After attending Stratton Mountain School, Caldwell enrolled at Dartmouth, where he’s majoring in geography and economics. He was named to the U.S. Ski Team after his freshman year. The following year, he won the NCAA championship 10 km freestyle in 2015.
A distance racer, Caldwell finished ninth in both the 15 km free and the skiathlon at the 2017 U23 World Championships last January, then made his World Cup debut. Look for 23-year-old Caldwell to make his Olympic debut in PyeongChang.
Simi Hamilton, SMS Elite Team
Simi Hamilton’s family is an institution in Aspen, Colo. His grandfather ran the Aspen Skiing Company in the 1960s and 1970s and his grandmother, Ruthie Brown, has one of the mountain’s most famous runs named for her, Ruthie’s. Hamilton is a climber and a downhill skier, but ever since he came east to attend Stratton Mountain School, then Middlebury College, he’s excelled at cross-country.
Hamilton graduated in 2009, a three-time All-American, and returned west to work as an EXUM mountain guide leading clients up Wyoming’s Grand Teton. But that fall, he returned to Nordic ski racing, won the national sprint title, and found himself on his first Olympic team in 2010. He had yet to compete in a World Cup. But at the Vancouver Games, he was the sole American who qualified for the sprint quarterfinals (after Newell crashed). He eventually finished 29th.
Since then, Hamilton has competed in another Olympics (finishing fifth in the team sprint with Erik Bjornsen), four world championships (he finished fifth again in a team sprint with Bjornsen in 2017), and has finished on the World Cup podium four times, including one win. In December, Hamilton, 30, won an Alpen Cup sprint in Austria.
One of the fastest sprinters in the world, Hamilton will likely compete in the classic sprint and team sprint (a freestyle race in PyeongChang), and the relay.
Top photo: Paddy Caldwell, Sophie’s cousin, skating for the team at Davos. Photo by Reese Brown/USSA