Ben Ogden competes in the men's cross-country skiing 15-km classic during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 11, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
On a warm, wet January weekend in northern New Hampshire, Ben Ogden was cross-country ski racing through heavy, wet snow at the Bates Carnival, the first collegiate race of the NCAA DI eastern circuit.
With Ogden in the field, every other guy racing that weekend was racing for second place. Why? Because Ogden — a graduate student at the University of Vermont using his final year of NCAA eligibility — is a 2022 Olympian, reigning NCAA champion, and the best-ever finisher for the U.S. man at the seven-stage Tour de Ski.
“I always love racing the carnivals,” he told a reporter after the first collegiate race (referred to as “carnivals” on the NCAA Division 1 eastern circuit).
Ogden has balanced college and international ski racing for his entire tenure at UVM. And since his FIS World Cup debut in March 2019, he has had a meteoric rise in international standings. This year, the 22-year-old is ranked seventh the world in sprint standings and ninth overall—and at the 2022/2023 Tour de Ski earlier this month, he scored the best result in men’s distance skiing in four decades.
And the team aspect both on the U.S. team and in college skiing is one of the reasons behind his rise.
“For an individual sport, the team aspect of what we do is huge, be it the World Cup or college team or club team or whatever,” he said by phone on his way to New Hampshire. “The people around you are sort of who dictates your potential to some extent.”
Here’s a look at Ogden’s career and what has helped fuel his rapid rise.
Ogden grew up in the mountain hamlet of Landgrove, Vermont, with older sister Katharine and younger sister Charlotte. Their father, John, skied for Middlebury College and coached the local Bill Koch League—a thriving program in that part of Vermont (thanks in part to the fact that Bill Koch himself lives nearby). Ogden attended high school at the local Stratton Mountain School. Along with a top-notch education, the school boasts a renowned Nordic program.
Ogden became one of the U.S.’s top junior cross-country ski racers and before graduating from SMS, won a world championship silver medal as part of the U.S. men’s 4x5km relay team. Over the next two years (2019 and 2020), the U.S. men then won the world championship relay, giving Ogden two gold medals.
After SMS, he went to UVM to study mechanical engineering and ski for the top ranked UVM ski team. He liked the balance of studying and training. So, after graduating from UVM in May 2022, Ogden decided to pursue a master’s degree (he had one year of NCAA eligibility left because of Covid-19 race cancellations in 2021). His master's project is on the thermal management of electric vehicle battery packs.