By Greg Laudani, Staff Writer
Freshman Phil Rivet of the University of New Hampshire alpine ski team is fresh off his third career appearance representing Team Canada at the World University Games in Granada, Spain from Feb. 8-14.
Rivet was the sole Wildcat at the games and one of just six skiers chosen to compete for Team Canada.
The Quebec native raced the fastest time of any Canadian, finishing the giant slalom in 1 minute, 39.67 seconds to finish 24th overall in the competition. His time was also third fastest among North American skiers.
Rivet competed in the games a pair of times previously – in Italy in December 2013, and in Turkey in February 2011 – but this event never gets old for him. Getting the chance to go against many of the world’s best collegiate skiers is a privilege Rivet said he has never taken for granted.
“For me, the University Games is the biggest event I’ve been to in my athletic career,” Rivet said. “I’ve been a part of many races but these are like small Olympics.”
“The whole spirit is different than just a normal race. That’s why I love these games so much. Whenever I get the opportunity to go, I absolutely will.”
What brought Rivet to UNH? He wanted to experience a new, adventurous chapter in his life. Rivet grew up in Saint-Lambert, Quebec, an off-island suburb of Montreal and an approximate five-hour drive from UNH. He went to high school in Quebec and played from 2010-2014 as a member of the University of Montreal ski team.
Rivet grabbed two Top-10 finishes in 2014 on his way to being named Université de Montréal Rookie of the Year.
One would probably think Rivet was right where he wanted to be – excelling as a standout for a hometown team. But Rivet said that things might have been going a little too perfectly.
“Everything was going so well over there but something was missing,” Rivet said. “I felt kind of too comfortable over there. I wanted to pull myself out and do something different.”
Rivet came to UNH this fall, describing it as a perfect place to experience this new chapter in his life.
“When I saw the opportunity to come to UNH, I saw the chance for a new adventure,” he said. “I really felt like exploring the life here.”
The Wildcat newcomer has already established himself as one of the team’s premier skiers. Rivet ranks ninth in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association in the slalom with 90 points and 14th in the giant slalom with 69 points. Meanwhile, he sits at 11th combined between the two alpine events with 159 total points this winter. He has also ranked 13th in the NCAA Qualifier List. But Rivet said his ultimate goal is not about rankings.
“For me, to win a carnival would be my ultimate goal,” Rivet said. “If I can do that, I’d be really happy with that. But it’s a still a work in progress, as I’m still learning and getting adjusted to the new hills we race on.”
Along with having early success on the slopes, Rivet said he has thoroughly enjoyed his new home during his first season with the Wildcats.
“I really enjoy the campus life here, and I was really looking forward to that when I decided to come to UNH,” Rivet said. “It’s a university town and that’s what I like most about it. On weekends I compete a lot but I have still had a lot of fun meeting new people, too.”
Rivet’s next opportunity at a carnival victory will come this weekend at the St. Lawrence Carnival/EISA Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y. This will also serve as the NCAA East Regional for the championships coming up on March 11-13.