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Published February 08, 2023
Both University of Wyoming Nordic ski teams had strong finishes in the second United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association competition last weekend at the Western Colorado University (WCU) Invitational in Crested Butte, Colo.
Races were in collaboration with one of the largest citizen races in Colorado. The Alley Loop -- with six separate races and more than 1,000 participants -- is a celebration of Nordic skiing. The collegiate competition was a 21km freestyle race, a true test of skier fitness and ability, according to UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs.
The college men and women competitors start in their own waves, and the race started quickly with the host WCU men jumping out fast.
Kaj Taylor, a UW chemical engineering major from Palmer, Alaska, took off with the leaders and skied to a solid sixth-place finish. Matthew Williams, a kinesiology major from Jackson, took 11th, followed by Jamie Peacock, a physiology major from Jackson, in 14th. Spencer Canen, an outdoor recreation and tourism management major from Laramie, placed 18th, just edging teammate Sean Kraemer, an earth systems science major from Conifer, Colo.
The rest of the Cowboys finished their first-ever 21km strong with visiting scholars from Shanghai University of Sport placing -- Yuanda Huang took 26th; Baitu Li finished 27th; Xudong Yang was 31st; Weiping Zhu placed 33rd; Zhuoran Tan finished 34th; and Ethan Dowalter, a UW graduate student in computer science from Fredericktown, Ohio, placed 37th.
The Cowboys skied to second place overall with 31 points, finishing behind WCU, which had a team-low six points. Colorado College placed third with 38 points.
The UW women also skied well, with another strong performance by Sammy Veauthier, a zoology major from Casper, who led the race from the starting gun to place first, almost two minutes in front of the next skier. Krisanna Andrews, a secondary education major from Laramie, skied to fourth place; Isabella Brown, an architectural engineering major from Casper, placed sixth; and Dan Yan, from Shanghai, China, completed the scoring in 14th.
UW’s visiting scholars also competed well for the UW women’s team. Xingyu Jiang was 18th; Shiqi Deng finished 19th; Xi Cheng placed 20th; and Yuening Shen took 22nd.
“It was just incredible to watch Sammy ski so strong from the front,” says UW co-head Coach Rachel Watson. “It can get lonely out there, and the second- and third-place skiers were working together to reel her in, but she just kept charging. She was unstoppable.”
The Cowgirls finished the competition in second place with 16 points -- five behind Colorado State University (CSU) and ahead of WCU, which had 35 points.
Sunday’s 5km classic race was held under clear, perfect conditions, Boggs says. The Cowboys started quickly, with Taylor battling the entire race and skiing onto the podium in third place, just 26 seconds out of the lead. Williams had another strong day, skiing into seventh, and Peacock moved up one place from the 21km race to 13th on the second day.
The rest of the team also competed well, with Canen placing 14th; Kraemer taking 16th; and Yang, Li, Huang and Zhu placing 24th through 27th.
Boggs says the UW men finished stronger as a team than they have so far this year, scoring 21 points to place second behind WCU’s first-place seven points. Colorado Mesa University placed third with 40.
The UW women had one of their best races of the season to take the overall team title.
“Sammy, who has dominated the Rocky Mountain Conference with three wins in three races, crashed hard and lost a great deal of time,” Boggs says. “Despite this setback, she still skied to fourth place. Her fall didn’t matter to the team, though, since Krisanna stepped up to take her place at the top of the podium.”
Just three years ago, Andrews struggled on the same course because she was a newer skier and the technical aspects of this same course overwhelmed her, Boggs adds.
“But she showed all of the hard work she has put in paid off, and she has become an accomplished technical skier,” Boggs says.
The rest of the Cowgirls skied well. Brown skied to sixth place; Izzy Bergemann, a civil engineering major from Minneapolis, Minn., stepped into place 11th; Cheng took 14th; Jiang was 16th; Deng took 17th; and Shen finished 20th.
The UW women won the overall team title with 15 points, CSU was second with 23 points, and Colorado College placed third with 27.
UW’s teams will be in Leadville, Colo., this weekend for the CSU invitational.
The weekend of Feb. 18-19 will be UW’s home race at Happy Jack ski trails, with the annual Laramie Loppet -- an open citizen race scheduled Sunday. The race will help raise money for UW’s program to compete at the collegiate national championships in Mammoth, Calif., next month.