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The brother of one of the University of Wyoming's top Nordic skiers captured a Winter Olympics silver medal Wednesday in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Evgeniy Panzhinskiy's brother, Alexander, representing Russia, won the cross-country men's individual sprint silver medal in a photo finish to teammate Nikita Kriukov. Both skiers completed the 1.5km course in 3:36.3, but judges determined that Kriukov crossed the finish line first.
Evgeniy Panzhinskiy, a UW molecular biology doctoral student from Khabaravsk, Russia, is among the Rocky Mountain Conference overall leaders this season and has helped lead the UW men to an impressive season. The Cowboys' lowest finish this season in all league races is second place.
Both the UW men's and women's teams are the defending United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSSA) national champions.
"Evgeniy has two years of eligibility left for skiing because the school system in Russia is different and his undergraduate and high school experiences were combined," UW Coach Christi Boggs says.
She says that Evgeniy wanted to go somewhere he could get a quality degree in molecular biology while being able to ski.
"He found two places in the world where this would work -- Bergen, Norway, and Laramie, Wyoming," says Boggs, a UW Outreach Credit Programs assistant lecturer. "Evgeniy spent a week visiting Bergen. It rained the entire time and he hated it so he came to Laramie."
When he arrived on campus, Boggs says she did not know if he would be eligible to compete in the USCSSA because they adhere to NCAA Division II rules.
"We did some checking and he was good to go for two years," she says. "Last season he was second in all the national races and this year the exact event that his brother Alexander medaled in will be held. Evgeniy should be inspired."
Both the UW men's and women's Nordic ski teams will defend their national titles at the USCSSA Nationals March 1-6, in Sunday River, Maine.