SMS' Caldwell to retire
STRATTON — Sverre Caldwell, a legendary Nordic ski coach who led teams in the Olympics and at Stratton Mountain School for the past four decades, is retiring at the end of the school year.
His retirement was announced on the Stratton Mountain School Facebook page in a letter from SMS Headmaster Christopher Kaltsas on Thursday.
"I decided to do this a couple of years ago," said Caldwell in a phone interview on Friday night. "I want to spend more time with my wife and travel more. I will stay involved, because I love coaching, but I want to do it on my own terms."
A Dartmouth College grad, the 64-year-old Caldwell joined the SMS staff in 1980 as Nordic coach. Over the years, Caldwell worked at SMS in many different roles, including as a teacher, a coach, the director of the Nordic ski program, headmaster and as a parent — as his three children, Sophie, Isabel and Austin, all attended Stratton Mountain School.
Under Caldwell's guidance, SMS Nordic has placed 15 cross-country skiers on the U.S. Olympic team and has had at least one World Junior Team member and at least one Junior national champion for 24 straight years.
SMS has been named Cross Country Club of the Year for four of the last six years. Caldwell was a 1988 U.S. Ski Team Olympic team coach and was recognized as the USSA Coach of the Year in 2001, 2003, and 2009. Additionally, he is a three-time Junior World Team coach and has been a U.S. Ski Team regional coach.
"He's the greatest of all time," said David Newell, whose son Andy has trained with Caldwell for two decades. "He's a fabulous coach. He's been a mentor to many skiers, including Andy. You can't replace him, he has a tremendous legacy."
Caldwell was also instrumental in founding the SMS T2 Elite Team.
"We started the Elite Team about 10 years ago, the [U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association] was going to more of a club model than a school model," Caldwell said. "We always welcomed alums back to train, guys like Andy. It was awesome to have a club, but it took a couple of years to figure out how to pay for it, it was a leap of faith by several people."
That has paid off many-fold. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, six SMS Nordic skiers competed, including the school's T2 Elite Team's Jessie Diggins, who won the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the United States in the team sprint.
"The kids at the school now get to train with those people who come back," Caldwell said.
In 1988, Caldwell was named as a coach for the U.S. Olympic team in Calgary, Canada.
"When I started at SMS, I loved skiing, and I knew a lot, but I was lucky to inherit a really strong team," Caldwell said. "Few schools were training for skiing year-round back then, so I had instant credibility. It was a perfect situation and a great honor."
Caldwell was named to the Vermont ski and snowboard Hall of Fame in 2013.
Caldwell said his career at Stratton Mountain School has been fun, but it's time for him to back away just a little bit.
"This is truly the end of a coaching era at SMS. We are incredibly grateful to Sverre for his many contributions to Stratton Mountain School's history, future, and overall growth." Kaltsas said.
Kaltsas wrote that the school will host a celebration on June 9 to honor Caldwell.
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