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Both UW Nordic Ski Club Teams Win National Championships

March 9, 2009
Women skiing
University of Wyoming Nordic club teammates Kari Boroff, senior from Daniel and Laramie junior Gwynn Barrows, compete in Saturday's relay race at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association Nationals (UW Photo by Susan Oderwald)

This was a great 10th anniversary gift for University of Wyoming Nordic Ski Club coaches Christi Boggs and Rachel Watson -- double national champions.

Both the UW men's and women's Nordic teams won their respective divisions Saturday at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) Nationals at Devil's Thumb Ranch near Frisco, Colo.

The UW teams are celebrating their 10th year of competition since cross country skiing was reinstated as a club sport. And during that run, Boggs, a UW Outreach Credit Programs assistant lecturer, and Watson, a lecturer in the UW Department of Molecular Biology, have coached the program.

The pair have now led the women's program to four national titles, while the men have captured two.

"We couldn't be more proud. This is our 10th year of coaching and although we never hoped for this, it sure is a nice gift," Boggs says. "We're just extremely proud of our athletes. We thought they might have a chance going in and they all saved their best races of the year for the most important. Not only did they ski like champions, but they also behaved as true champions, gracious, friendly, supportive and respectful."

The Cowboys completely dominated the week-long USCSA Nationals from the beginning through Saturday's closing 15km team relay race. After four races, the UW men scored a team-low 25 points, while a distant second was St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minn., with 117. Whitman College of Walla Walla, Wash., placed third with 140.

The Cowgirls had a much closer time wrapping up their national title when they finished third in the overall team relay race. However, the UW women had a sufficeint overall cushion in the team standings to finish with 67 points, edging Whitman College by just five points. The St. Olaf women placed third with 83 points.

The Cowboys swept all three individual men's races at the USCSA Nationals and added the relay team competition as well. The team of Eliah Pederson, Lander freshman; Jackson junior Daniel Lewis, who won all three individual national titles; and Evgeniy "Zheny" Panzhinskiy, senior from Russia, won the relay race.

They finished ahead of St. Olaf and Paul Smith's College of Paul Smith, N.Y.

"The men had an amazing day. We figured the point standings before the race and even if we took the top three men off the team, our men would still have won nationals," Boggs says. "Zhenya, anchoring the team, came to the finish line, grabbed a UW flag and skied to the finish like a world cup winner, waiving the UW flag."

The UW women gave their coaches a few anxious moments in the final team relay race when the Cowgirls finished third behind St. Olaf and Whitman. On the UW team were Jackson freshman Gracey Lewis; Kari Boroff, senior, Daniel; and Laramie junior Gwynn Barrows.

"Our women started the day 12 points in front of Whitman, this meant that as long as they were within one place of Whitman they would win the overall title," Boggs says. "The women decided to make it interesting and almost gave their coaches heart failure."

UW also had eight academic All-Americans: Boroff; Marie Cartwright, sophomore, Lander; Michael Fitzgerald, sophomore, Laramie; Adam Karges, Grand Rapids, Minn.; Gracey Lewis; Panzhinskiy; Jacob Peterson, junior, Casper; and junior Shannon Wilson, also from Casper.

Posted on Monday, March 09, 2009

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