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The University of Wyoming's nationally-recognized Nordic Ski Club has been invited to compete at the Winter World University Games Jan. 26-Feb. 6, in Erzurum, Turkey.
UW is among several U.S. teams invited to compete in the 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 UW Nordic Club, manned by mostly Wyoming high school graduates, has become a national power participating in the United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA) sanctioned races. The last seven years in USCSA competition, the UW women 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.
Christi Boggs, UW Nordic Ski co-coach, is no stranger to the Universiade. She represented the Cowgirls at the 1993 event in Zakopane, Poland, at the conclusion of her UW career. Having gone through the process to attend the Universiade while in college, Boggs was taken aback by the invitation extended to the entire team. UW will be represented in Turkey by six Cowboys on the men's team and six Cowgirls on the women's squad, plus four coaches who are either a UW faculty/staff member or student.
"This truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our student athletes and coaches, but also an honor for the University and the state of Wyoming. On the international athletic stage this event is overshadowed only by the Olympic Games in terms of prestige, countries represented, races and general atmosphere," Boggs says. "To choose a team from a state with such a small population as the best representatives based on speed as well as attitude and scholastic ability is a true testament to the quality of UW students."
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.
Boggs says the UW club is one of the first such teams offered the opportunity to represent the United States in Nordic ski competition after the restructure of sponsorship. The U.S. Olympic Committee stopped sponsorship after the 2005 games and it became the responsibility of the U.S. International University Sports Federation (US-IUSF). However, with the lack of funds, the organization sent only partial U.S. teams to the last two Universiade Games, Boggs says.
The US-IUSF joined forces with BTI Events to send a full U.S. team to the 2011 Universiade competition. BTI Events approached the United States Ski Association and asked them to field a Nordic ski team, but they declined. BTI Events needed to find a complete team comprised entirely of American skiers, and UW was selected.
Depending upon the cost of airline tickets to Istanbul, Boggs estimates that it will cost each UW team member approximately $2,500 to attend. Several fundraising events are planned and will be announced later. To donate, contact Boggs at (307) 766-4238 or e-mail email@example.com.