UW Nordic Ski Teams Continue Strong Performances at National Competition

It was a great day to be a University of Wyoming Cowboy and Cowgirl.

Both the UW men’s and women’s Nordic ski teams turned in strong performances Thursday at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., home of the 1980 Winter Olympics.

During the third round of competition, UW men’s team member Kaj Taylor, of Palmer, Alaska, followed up his impressive sprint with a national runner-up title in the 15km classic -- making him a two-time first-team All-American.

In the race, Taylor started quickly and skied closely with the overall national champion from Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smiths, N.Y. The two competitors pulled away from the rest of the pack, with Taylor trying multiple times to pull away from the leader, but he could not quite drop him and eventually lost ground.

“It was an incredible show of skiing by Kaj. He skied so well, but he is ever humble, saying the wax on his skis was what was perfect,” UW co-head Coach Rachel Watson says. “Kaj was so calm and confident in the race. He knew he had that podium in him, and you could see it in his eyes throughout the race.”

The rest of the men skied “super hard and gritty,” inspired by Taylor’s performance, co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. Unofficially, the Cowboys finished sixth overall in the men’s competition.

“We had some crashes that kept us back from an incredible finish but, overall, it was a good day,” Boggs adds. “Our women also were incredible, with seven women in the top 19 places. They just kept picking people off.”

The Cowgirls were led once again by Annie Miller, from Minneapolis, Minn., who placed fifth among all skiers. She was followed by Cowgirl teammates who all finished in order from 12th place through 16th. They were Krisanna Andrews, of Laramie; Casper’s Sammy Veauthier; Shayla Babits, of Lander; Grace Erholtz, of Baxter Minn.; and Wren Hybertson, from Boulder, Colo. Izzy Brown, of Casper, rounded out the overall top 20 place winners, finishing 19th.

“They were a thing of beauty to watch, just skiing so well, pacing each other to such great finishes,” Boggs says.

As a team, the Cowgirls placed third behind national leader St. Olaf University, of Northfield, Minn., which had the top two skiers and another in eighth place. Second went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“This puts our women’s team on the podium for the largest and best field USCSA has ever seen,” Boggs says. “They go into the final relay fighting to move up one place on the podium.”

The national competition wraps up Saturday with the freestyle team sprint finale.

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