Maggie Druckenmiller

West Valley senior Maggie Druckenmiller competes in the Senior Nationals skate sprint qualifier Jan. 2 in Houghton, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Maggie Druckenmiller

West Valley senior Maggie Druckenmiller signed up for four more years of competitive cross-country skiing earlier this month when she signed her letter of intent to Dartmouth’s NCAA Division I ski team.

“My parents stuck me on skis when I was 18-months old and I tottered around the house. I’ve just been skiing for so long that I couldn’t just feasibly stop skiing after senior year,” Druckenmiller said over the phone on Saturday.

“I’ve been finally getting the results I wanted and I want to focus on academics, but I can’t give up skiing. It’s been a part of my life for so long.”

At Dartmouth, Druckenmiller won’t have to sacrifice either. Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, the school is one of eight Ivy League universities, all of which are some of the best in the nation academically.

“My parents always pushed me to do as well as I could in academics and I wanted a college to really push me too,” she said.

Druckenmiller visited the school during a college trip to the east coast after her sophomore year. And while she visited a handful of schools in the Northwest after her junior year, it was hard to find another that stacked up.

The only thing still missing was an official offer from the Big Green’s longtime coach, Cami Thompson Graves.

“I knew if I wanted to race I’d need to step up my game a little bit,” Druckenmiller said. With the majority of her high school Advanced Placement courses behind her, she had more energy to focus on her athletics and the results followed.

This fall, following two seasons of disappointing finishes at the state cross-country running championship — after a podium finish her freshman year, she slipped to 10th as sophomore and 18th as a junior — she set a new personal record of 19 minutes, 1.6 seconds on the 5k course for a fifth place finish.

Her skiing results followed. In the first two Besh Cup races in December, she placed in the top 10 and she followed it up in January with her best result to date at Senior Nationals in Houghton, Michigan, where she qualified for the U18 Scandinavian Cup, finishing the three-day event in seventh overall.

“I was not expecting that at all. It was cool to be able to prove to myself that I could actually do that if I tried really hard,” she said.

Thompson Graves, who was at Senior Nationals with the Dartmouth skiers, also noticed. A few days later in math class, Druckenmiller received an email on her watch from the Big Green coach that read, “Commit?”

“I don’t remember the rest of math class that day because I was so excited,” she said.

Druckenmiller also acknowledged her supporters — “my family for dragging me all over town to ski for so many years and my coaches, Greg Whisenhant, Pete Leonard, Dan Callahan, Nick Crawford and Alasdair Tutt for pushing me so hard through the years and to my teammates for keeping me motivated.”

Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.