Both UW Nordic Teams Place Fourth at National Championships

A last-minute decision to change the final race at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., Saturday threw the University of Wyoming teams’ hopes off the trail.

The last race of the week was supposed to be a team sprint, which is a relay with three skiers alternating times, but a serious storm rolled in, bringing high winds that actually blew competitors off course.

“The organizers wanted to cancel the race for safety reasons but decided we could do an interval-start hill climb,” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “This is completely different than we had planned, and this caused a full upset of results. They added the times of the three people who would have been on the relay team and then gave them relay scoring.”

The Cowboys’ and Cowgirls’ hopes of improving on their national standings after the final race did not turn out as they had hoped, according to the UW coaches. Both teams finished fourth overall in the national standings, in what the coaches said was the largest and most competitive cross country nationals in history.

During the men’s revamped race, the Cowboys team of Kaj Taylor, from Palmer, Alaska; Austin Quillinan, of Laramie; and Jackson’s Jamie Peacock did well, placing fourth in the race.

The women did not fare as well, placing fifth on the day, with Paul Smith’s College of Paul Smiths, N.Y., winning the race. On the women’s team were Annie Miller, from Minneapolis, Minn.; Shayla Babits, from Lander; and Casper’s Sammy Veauthier.

“This meant that the UW women were 20 points behind on the day, thus being pushed off the overall podium by just five points,” Boggs says of just missing third place in the national standings. “It was a heartbreaking loss, but everyone skied their hearts out and could not have done anything differently.”

Clarkson University, in Potsdam, N.Y., won the men’s team title with 68 points, followed by Paul Smith’s College with 70; Western Colorado University, in Gunnison, Colo., took third with 113; and the Cowboys were fourth with 191 points.

On the women’s side, weeklong leader St. Olaf College, of Northfield, Minn., won the team title with 58 points; second went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison with 104; Paul Smith’s was third at 117; and just five back were the Cowgirls with 122 points.

At the end of the week’s four-race national championship week, Taylor was the third-place individual on the podium for the overall title behind Aidan Ripp of Paul Smith’s College and Conner Roberts from Clarkson University. Taylor was a first-team All-American.

The Cowgirls placed two individuals in the national top 10. Miller finished the week fourth overall in the individual points standings and earned first-team All-American, while Veauthier was 10th in the overall standings.

And, just as impressive, 18 of the 19 UW student-athletes who qualified for the national championships were named Scholar All-Americans.

“We are truly impressed with that number, since they are competing so strongly both on the trails and in the classroom,” Boggs says.

UW co-head Coach Rachel Watson also was impressed with the overall competitive field, while also praising the Cowboys and Cowgirls teams.

“It was an incredible experience to be part of the largest and highest quality field of cross country athletes and teams in USCSA history,” Watson adds. “It is tough to communicate the level of skiing that was on display this entire week, and our skiers were right in there fighting hard.”

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