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Published March 10, 2022
The University of Wyoming’s John Henry Paluszek skied to a national championship Wednesday, helping the Cowboys move into third place at the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association’s Collegiate National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Paluszek, the Rocky Mountain Conference’s overall individual points leader this past season from Farmington, N.H., topped the field in the classic sprint competition after taking third in Tuesday’s 7.5km interval start skate race.
“John Henry was in a class of his own, easily winning every heat all the way through to the final,” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “He simply was never challenged in any meaningful way. He raged up the long uphill and was uncatchable all the way to the finish.”
It was Paluszek’s third sprint national championship, after winning two with his previous school, Vermont’s Castleton University.
“It was a hard race, but our wax techs did a nice job with both kick and glide,” Paluszek says. “The course had one big hill, so I knew I had to make my move there. I made the top of that hill my finish line and then let my glide take over. I had to hope for the best, because there was a slip stream that could benefit anyone close enough to catch it. Fortunately, I had broken the slip stream and was able to cruise home.”
The sprint started with a qualifying race, from which the top 30 contestants were then put into five qualifying heats. The top two in each heat and the two fastest third-place finishers went on to the semifinals (12 people). The top two from each of those heats and the fastest third-place person moved to the “A” finals to determine places 1-5 (first-team All-American), and the rest went to the “B” finals to determine 6-10 (second-team All-American).
Four UW men and four UW women made the heats. In addition to Paluszek, Silas Goetz, Nathan Kessler and Jamie Peacock made it for the Cowboys; the women were Annie Miller, Casper’s Samantha Veauthier, Laramie’s Krisanna Andrews and Casper’s Isabella Brown.
Goetz, of Lander, advanced to the “B” final and placed ninth. Kessler, of Buffalo, and Peacock, of Jackson, skied well but just missed making the semifinals, Boggs says.
The Cowboys tied defending national champion Clarkson University, of Potsdam, N.Y., for third in Wednesday’s team competition. UW’s men are now third in the overall team race.
On the women’s side, Miller, of Minneapolis, Minn., took third in her heat despite falling on the final downhill run and advanced to the semifinals.
“The rest of the women got to cheer her on for her last two rounds, where she skied to 10th place for second-team All-American honors,” Boggs says.
Overall, the Cowgirls were fourth in Wednesday’s competition and stand second overall behind defending national champion St. Olaf College, of Northfield, Minn.
More than 500 student-athletes, representing 53 colleges and universities, are competing in various skiing events at Lake Placid, the same site that hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. The teams have a day off today (Thursday) before the 15km classic race Friday and the final relay race Saturday.