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UW Nordic Ski Teams Prepare for Nationals

March 2, 2018
man cross-country skiing
UW Nordic ski club team member Mason Vincent, from Laramie, competing in last week’s home race, is the defending national champion in the classic race. UW will compete in the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association national championship March 6-10 in Lake Placid, N.Y., home of the 1980 Winter Olympics. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming prides itself as being a national power in men’s and women’s Nordic skiing. But, things may be a bit tougher for the Cowboys and Cowgirls this season.

Both clubs will compete in the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) five-day annual Collegiate National Championship March 6-10 in Lake Placid, N.Y., home of the 1980 Winter Olympics.

More than 500 athletes will compete for national collegiate titles in alpine, Nordic, snowboard and free ski events in the Adirondack Mountains. USCSA is the only ski and snowboard league in which colleges and universities compete and qualify for postseason competition as teams.

This emphasis on team performance is a departure from the typical individual or world cup scoring format often found in skiing. Allowing entire teams to qualify for the USCSA Collegiate National Championship also allows for a greater number of competitors to attend the event, with more than 200 alpine athletes, 200 free ski and snowboard athletes, and 100 Nordic athletes competing at Lake Placid.

The UW men are the three-time defending national champions in Nordic skiing, while the Cowgirls have been national runners-up two years running.

“The women’s field is looking super tough, with last year’s defending national champions, Clarkson University, dominating the East; 2017 runners-up St. Olaf skiing strong in the Midwest; and both Western State Colorado University and UW skiing strong in the West,” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “Depending on how they ski, our young women’s team could be anywhere from first to fourth. They have the grit, determination and ability to make this a tight race, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it goes.”

Boggs says the team hopes for some first-team All-America individual finishes from Laramie’s Ella DeWolf in the skate race; Sydney Wiswell, of Jackson, in the classic competition; and Leann Bentley, of Laramie, in the sprint; with possibilities for the trio getting into the top 10 in all the races, Boggs adds.

As for the men’s competition, the Cowboys come into the USCSA Nationals with just a three-man squad.

“Three men count in every race, so we can’t have anyone drop out or have a bad race if we want to finish on the podium,” Boggs says.

Laramie’s Mason Vincent is the defending national champion in the classic race, while teammate Trevor Willoughby, of Casper, is the national runner-up.

“There also is a classic sprint this year, which will be beneficial for them both,” Boggs says. “Both have the capability to be on the podium for the individual overall title, which is the hardest award to win at USCSA Nationals.”

During the final regular meet last weekend at the Happy Jack trails, the UW women were second and the men fourth in their respective full sprint races. Willoughby was the only Cowboy to reach the “A” final, which qualifies the top six skiers. He placed fourth overall.

Bentley reached her first podium of her collegiate career, placing third, and Wiswell was fifth.

Vincent placed fifth in the 21km freestyle race, while Willoughby finished eighth.

DeWolf capped an undefeated skate race season, placing first by a 3-minute margin, while Wiswell finished sixth. Morgan Robins, of Lander, also finished among the top 10 competitors, placing ninth.

The Cowgirls won the regular season regional title, while the men placed third.

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