Dartmouth Figure Skating Team Wins Sixth National Title


The Dartmouth club figure skating team won the Intercollegiate Figure Skating Team Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo., on April 22, capturing the team’s sixth national title. Dartmouth finished with 130 points, while the defending champion University of Delaware placed second with 97 points, and two-time national champs Boston University finished third with 80 points.


The Dartmouth club figure skating team recently captured its sixth national championship. (Back row, from left): Joseph Miller ’14, Margaret Jessiman ’12, Claire Michaud ’12, Pinar Gurel, Chrissy Bettencourt ’13 (Middle row, from left) Coach Jackie Smith, Isabel Hines ’13, Iris Yu ’14, Kristen Nehls ’14 Maria Sperduto ’14, Deborah Lee ’12, Director of Club Sports Joann Brislin, Alina Everett ’12 (Front row, from left) Elana Folbe ’15, Melissa Li ’15, Caroline Knoop ’15, Kelsey Anspach ’15, Kirsten Seagers ’15. (courtesy of Alina Everett ’12)

“After finishing second by just 2.5 points last year, I started off the season by stressing to the team that we can win nationals this season. I wasn’t just saying it— I believed it and they came to believe it, too,” said head coach Jacki Smith. Smith ended her four-year Dartmouth coaching career on a high-note; she and her family are soon relocating to the South.

More than 120 skaters from nine college teams competed in the two-day event hosted by Colorado College. Team captain Margaret Jessiman ’12 and team president Alina Everett ’12 said it was a collective team effort that enabled the Big Green to finish 33 points ahead of Delaware. Among the gold medal winners in individual events were Joseph Miller ’14, Isabel Hines ’13, Kelsey Anspach ’15, Deborah Lee ’12, Caroline Knoop ’15, and Kirsten Seagers ’15.


Joseph Miller ’14 was one of the six Dartmouth skaters to win an individual event gold medal at the Intercollegiate Figure Skating Championship. (courtesy of Alina Everett ’12)

“At last year’s nationals, our team members skated amazingly and we were really proud of everyone’s performances,” said Jessiman of Darien, Conn., a religion modified with history major who is also a double minor in government and Spanish. “Knowing our team’s strength and depth, at the beginning of and throughout the season, we asked ourselves how we could further improve, prepare, and empower ourselves to win nationals.”

The national title win was even more meaningful since the team had dedicated its season to the memory of the program’s late coach J. Michael McGean ’49, who passed away in September 2011. McGean and his daughter Loren McGean ’92 coached the team together through 2008, leading the Big Green to five consecutive national championships from 2004 to 2008. Michael McGean and his late wife Lois were inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1991.

“Coach Mike McGean left an incredible legacy and our skaters are still inspired by the sense of community and passion he brought to the skating team,” said Everett, a psychology major and English minor from McCall, Idaho. “We feel his presence through our alumni who return to competitions every year to cheer on the team, and through the Class of 1949, whose support has made it possible for the team to compete year to year and to thrive the way we have. I was so proud standing on the ice as they announced we had earned the championship title, not just because of our team’s hard work, but also because we were able to honor Coach McGean and the Dartmouth community that has been so supportive of us. It was an emotional moment for the entire team.”

Joseph Miller ’14 of Salt Lake City, Utah, said the team—known for its strong camaraderie and sportsmanship—“completely stepped up to tackle nationals as one unit—a family.”

Miller, a geography major with minors in international studies and Japanese, added, “I would like for people to know that Dartmouth skaters invest so much of our Dartmouth life and our hearts into the team, that being a part of the skating team is a cornerstone experience for each and every one of us. There is a lifetime of work, of practice, pain, and passion that goes into those few minutes of performing in front of crowds and judges. It’s an ongoing joke on the team that figure skating is such a lifestyle, that you either ‘skate or die,’ which has become a catch phrase of the team.”

One of 33 Dartmouth club sports, the figure skating team’s national championship comes on the heels of the men’s club fencing team’s national title win on April 15. Last June, the men’s rugby club won the national USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship.

Bonnie Barber