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Competing with temperatures dipping into single digits and heavy snowfall, the University of Wyoming Nordic ski teams performed well in two days of competition at Crested Butte, Colo., during the Western State College Division I races.
Last Friday the UW men competed in a 10km interval start classic race and the women a 5km interval start classic race.
"This season the men have been better at the classic technique and they didn't disappoint," says Coach Christi Boggs, a UW Outreach Credit Programs assistant lecturer.
Three Cowboys broke into the top 30 percent of the competition. UW athletes who are within 30 percent of the winners at an NCAA race automatically qualify for the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association Nationals (USCSA), Division II's season-ending competition.
Lander's Joe Howdyshell, a UW graduate student who has used his college eligibility but continues to train and race with the Cowboys, finished in 32nd place (14 percent behind the leader); followed by Casper sophomore John Kirlin, 39th (19 percent); and Brian Sebade, Lander senior, (26 percent). Nicholai Smith, a junior from Chugiak, Alaska, missed the top 30 by just one percentage point.
"It was a tough day for skiing, but all our team members raced extremely hard and made improvements," Boggs says. "Our women made huge improvements last weekend."
The Turner twins from Chugiak, Alaska, Katie at 29.36 and Liz at 29.98 percent, both juniors, broke into the top 30 percent for the first time this season.
Laramie sophomore Gwynn Barrows continued to lead the Cowgirls at 26 percent; Lander freshman Marie Cartwright tied her best classic race of the season with a 31 percent finish; and Karyn Liebsch, freshman from Maple Grove, Minn., and Erin Hammer, Lander senior, got through their first Division I race of the season at 33 and 34 percent, respectively.
"Saturday the conditions were the same -- pounding snow and cold temperatures," Boggs says. "Fresh snow is tough to race through and gives individuals who start near the end a huge advantage. Unfortunately most of our men started near the front so they were packing the trail for the others."
Despite the conditions, Boggs says the team had some good finishes with Howdyshell in 34th, among the 16th percentile. He was followed by post-doctoral student, Grigory Kolesov, at 23 percent, Sebade 30 percent and Smith 34 percent.
For the Cowgirls, both Barrows (35th) and Cartwright (37th) finished in the top 25 percent, followed by Liz Turner (32 percent), Hammer (34 percent) and Katie Turner (37 percent).
"It was a tough weekend and despite extremely difficult conditions there were several great races," Boggs says. "The entire team is getting stronger as they start peaking for USCSA Nationals."
This weekend UW will compete in its last Division I race, the University of New Mexico invitational in Red River, N.M. The following weekend will be the team's home race, the Cowboy Chase, which is open to the public.
During the home meet, the UW Nordic team will have benefit drawing and dinner. Information can be found on the UW Web site at www.uwyo.edu/ski/CowboyChase.htm.