One UVM alpine skier is no stranger to the spotlight.
Junior Dom Garand most recently took home first place, winning the national title, in slalom during the 2015 NCAA Ski Championships March 14 in Lake Placid, New York. Garand’s skiing journey began at the age of 3 in Ottawa, Ontario. He was raised by a family with skiing in their blood and has been passed down for generations, Garand said.
“My grandfather was really the one who started it,” he said. “He got the bug, and gave it to my dad, and that translated into me being into skiing,”
Before stepping foot in Catamount country, Garand was a competing member of the Canadian World Junior Team, according to the UVM athletics website. When the Ottawa native first arrived in the Green Mountain state, he attended Burke Mountain Academy, where he trained and honed his skills, according to UVM athletics. During his time as a Catamount, Garand’s skis have grooved their way to the podium on a number of occasions.
Garand said the he prefers slalom because he feels the race fits him the best. The slalom consists of 60 turns throughout the course. However, the ride hasn’t always been smooth; Garand has hit his fair share of bumps along the way. Prior to his first year at UVM, he was recovering from an injury and feeling shaky on the slopes, Garand said.
“I’ve been building each year and improving and just being more consistent,” Garand said. “I think I’ve had some good speed, but I haven’t been able to do it day in and day out, but this year I’ve been more calm.” In his first year at UVM, 2013, Garand competed in seven conference races and posted three top-10 finishes. He was later named EISA Alpine rookie of the year, according to UVM athletics.
During his sophomore season, Garand shot out of the gate with seven podium appearances and two victories, including the grand slalom at the UVM Carnival. He was selected to the EISA All-East First Team, according to UVM athletics. This spring, Garand capped off his season by becoming the 55th national champion in the Vermont ski team’s history, according to UVM athletics.
“Seeing a student win a national title makes others believe they can do it too, and more skiers will want to come to UVM,” senior Tyler Dixon said. Garand was not the only one in awe after he crossed the finish line in first place.
The coaching staff shared similar emotions as well. “To have him come down in the lead, and hold it, was a pretty special moment,” head coach Bill Reichelt said.
“It was kind of overwhelming; even now I’m pinching myself, and when I see the trophy in my room I just smile and I’m just so happy I actually did it. It was pretty fun,” Garand said. In addition to his successes, Garand said he is ready to step up and be a leader for his fellow Cats on and off the snow.
“I would like to be in a position to have more leadership to try and guide the guys because I know I had some really good skiers to look up to and they did a great job,” he said. “The first-years this year are absolutely amazing, and they’re great skiers, so next year is looking great for us again,” Garand said. “Some big expectations for those guys, because they’re very good and I expect them to win a lot,” Garand said.
The Alpine and Nordic ski teams have hung up their skis for the season and will return to action next spring.