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UW Nordic Cowgirl Skiers Second After First Day at Nationals, Cowboys Fourth

March 8, 2022

Despite the team’s top seasonlong skier finishing out of the running, the University of Wyoming women’s Nordic ski team took second overall today (Tuesday) on the first day of the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association’s Collegiate National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The UW men just missed the podium, placing fourth behind the front-runners.

More than 500 student-athletes, representing 53 colleges and universities, are competing in various skiing events at the same site that hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics this week in Lake Placid. Today’s Nordic competition took place in treacherous conditions on a completely redesigned course.

“It’s an extremely challenging course,” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “The women went up first, and we had hoped that maybe we could get our young women’s team on the podium for one race. No real expectations of top 10 finishes, just looking for solid skiing and some experience for the future.”

The first competition of the week was a three-lap, 7.5km interval start skate race.

“It was clear very early on that we were going to see some magic from an unexpected source,” Boggs says. “That turned out to be Samantha Veauthier, who came by me so quickly that I was afraid she started too fast and would struggle to continue skiing fast through all three loops.”

The Casper freshman skied the “technical, icy downhills like a World Cup racer and just kept working hard,” Boggs adds. Veauthier finished the day in sixth place, taking second-team All-America honors.

Despite a high-speed fall that left her shaky and sore, Annie Miller, from Minneapolis, Minn., skied back into contention and finished behind Veauthier in eighth place. The Cowgirls’ other freshman, Isabella Brown, from Casper, rounded out the scoring in 21st place.

Team leader Krisanna Andrews, of Laramie, the Rocky Mountain Conference‘s third overall individual points leader this past season, had a tough day and struggled with cramping legs and shins, Boggs says. Andrews placed 27th. Lander’s Kailee Behunin, after crashing hard in warmups, fell again in the race and was unable to finish.

Defending national champion St. Olaf College, of Northfield, Minn., placed first with a team-low 12 points, while the surprising UW Cowgirls placed second with 34 points. Paul Smith’s College, in Paul Smith, N.Y., took third with 38 points; the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, in Minneapolis, was fourth with 45; and Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., was next with 46 points.

“Our men’s team came in with high hopes but stepped to the start line at a disadvantage, as two of the top four men were just getting over illnesses,” Boggs says. “Despite this, they fought extremely hard in the strongest men’s field I have ever seen at the national competition.”

The Cowboys placed fourth as a team with 39 points. Paul Smith’s College placed first overall with a team-low 10 points, followed by St. Olaf’s with 29; Western Colorado University, in Gunnison, was third with 33 points; and defending national champion Clarkson University, of Potsdam, N.Y., claimed fifth place with 49 points.

“We know that our men are a classic race team, and there are now two classic days in a row to help make up some ground on the teams sitting ahead of us on the podium,” Boggs says.

John Henry Paluszek, the Rocky Mountain Conference‘s overall individual points leader this past season from Farmington, N.H., paced the Cowboys with a third-place finish, just two seconds behind the runner-up skier.

“He skied super strong and was pleased with his podium finish to start the week,” Boggs says. “It was clear from the first lap that he was someone to be reckoned with.”

Both Kaj Taylor, from Palmer, Alaska, and Lander’s Silas Goetz struggled from their illnesses to place 18th and 19th, respectively. Nathan Kessler, from Buffalo, skied to 21st, missing the top 20 by just one second. Jamie Peacock and Matthew Williams, both from Jackson, placed 30th and 39th; Laramie’s Spencer Canen was 44th; and Ben Romanjenko, of Story, took 46th.

The second day of competition resumes Wednesday with a classic sprint. Competitors have Thursday off; Friday will be a classic mass start; and competition wraps up Saturday with a skate team sprint.

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