A pair of University of Wyoming Nordic ski club team members have performed well during the early portion of the World University Games in Strbske Pleso, Slovakia.
Junior Elise Sulser of Casper and Cody senior Sierra Jech placed in their respective events in competition that has attracted athletes representing about 30 countries.
Earlier in the week, Sulser, a microbiology major in the college, competed in the women’s 5km classic, finishing 23rd overall on a grueling course. Sulser is also an Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) major.
“She raced crazy good and was only three seconds out of the top 20 and 26 seconds out of the top 10,” UW co-head coach Christi Boggs said by email. “I can’t actually express how amazing it is placing where Elise did; there are 28 countries represented here at the games, and only nine of them were in front of her.”
Event updates are at facebook.com/uwnordic.
The UW club is part of the USA team at the World University Games, known as the Winter Universiade, an international sporting and cultural festival staged every two years in a different city. It is said to be second in importance only to the Winter Olympic Games.
Sulser’s finish was the highest placing among all USA team members. Other College of Agriculture and Natural Resources students competing were microbiology/ENR majors Kyle Bochanski and Britta Schroeter.
Earlier in the week, Jech placed 43rd overall, just a few seconds out of the top 30. Boggs added that several UW team members had their best overall times.
The 13-member team, along with four UW coaches, is at the World University Games through the weekend. This is the third time UW’s men’s and women’s Nordic ski club teams have been invited to compete in the World University Games. UW’s teams are competing against some world-class athletes who have competed in past Winter Olympics.
The UW Nordic ski club, composed mostly of Wyoming high school graduates, is a national power in the United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA)-sanctioned races. The UW women’s team has won six national titles since Nordic skiing returned as a club sport more than 15 years ago. The men’s team has won four USCSA national championships.
The UW women are the defending USCSA national champions, and the Cowboys are national runners-up.