UW Nordic Skiers Place at World University Games
Despite a 30-hour flight to Turkey and having to compete early the next morning, the University of Wyoming Nordic Ski club team had a respectable showing on the first day (Friday) of competition at the World University Games.
UW is among several U.S. teams invited to compete in the World University Games, known as the Winter Universiade, an international sporting and cultural festival staged every two years in a different city. It is said to be second in importance only to the Winter Olympic Games. The competition runs through Feb. 6, in Erzurum, Turkey.
"We are extremely pleased with this first race. We came to compete and it is clear that even after a mediocre day, we can do it," UW Coach Christi Boggs said. "We won't win any medals with the professional athletes some countries have brought, but we are competing and doing well."
The UW Nordic teams opened competition in the women's individual 5km classic. Laramie's Gwynn Barrows had the best finish among the Cowgirls, placing 45th in 18:45.4. Marie Cartwright, from Lander, was timed in 19:40.8 to place 51st; and Casper's Morgan Cropsey, 20:01 was two places back. Alia Iksanova of Russia won the event in 14:45.7.
In the men's individual 10km classic, UW's Eliah Pedersen of Lander was 56th in 32:31; Dan Lewis of Jackson was two places back in 33:44.8; and Devin Oderwald from Granby, Colo., finished in 35:34.9 to place 61st. Russia's Vladislav Skovelev won the men's event with a time of 25:43.1.
Despite the long flight and early morning competition, Boggs said, "We look like we belong here and I think we have better days to come, especially from some of the stronger men on our team who struggled on the first day."
UW is represented in Turkey by six Cowboys and six Cowgirls, plus four coaches who are either a UW faculty/staff member or student.
The Winter Universiade consists of alpine skiing-snowboarding; Nordic skiing composed of jump, cross country and combined; curling; ice hockey; short track speed skating; figure skating; biathlon and one or two optional sports chosen by the host country. A record number of participants (2,511) competed in the Torino, Italy, competition in 2007 with 50 countries represented at the 2005 games in Innsbruck, Austria.
The UW Nordic ski team, manned by mostly Wyoming high school graduates, is a national power despite being a club sport at the university, and competes in the NCAA Division II. In the last seven years, the Cowgirls have captured six national championships, in 2003, 2004 and from the years 2007 through 2010, while finishing as national runner-up in 2005 and 2006. The UW men have been national champions the past two years and won a third title in 2006. They were the national runner-up team in 2003, 2005 and 2007.