Seven CU skiers and one head coach are now in Erzurum, Turkey for the World University Games.
Led by Colorado Head Coach Richard Rokos, the seven athletes arrived in Turkey on Wednesday. The annual event pits athletes enrolled in colleges and universities from across the globe.
The games are slated to begin on Thursday and will end on February 6.
Rokos said the WUG gives athletes an opportunity for global competition.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for all involved to measure mutual strengths and weaknesses,” Rokos said in a news release. “We will continue to train for our ultimate goal of the NCAA Championships while we are here, but this is both an athletic and social event on the level of the Pan-Am Games or the Olympic Games.”
Rokos will serve as team leader for the United States, coaching freshman Kirsten Cooper, sophomore Erika Ghent and senior Katie Hartman on the women’s team and junior Taggart Spenst on the men’s team.
Ghent said she and her teammates are excited.
“Nobody knows what exactly to expect and none of us has ever been to Turkey,” Ghent said. “It’s an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we all feel fortunate to be able to go and compete.”
In a reflection of the strong presence of international athletes on the CU ski roster, three other Buff skiers will represent their respective countries in the WUG.
Senior Gabriel Rivas will compete for France in the men’s competition while Sara Hjertman and Carolina Nordh will represent Sweden in the women’s events.
Rokos especially is no stranger the event. The Czechoslovakian native is leading the U.S. alpine team for the seventh time, with his last tenure at the position occurring in 2007.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had such a strong team traveling, both from the perspective of the U.S. and for CU,” Rokos said.
This year’s event brings 1,880 athletes representing a record 57 countries in 22 sports.
The seven Buffs are scheduled to compete in the Super G, super combined, giant slalom and slalom races.
Despite the inner-squad competition, Ghent said she feels their connection as Buffaloes will be inseparable.
“Some of us will represent the United States and others France and Sweden,” Ghent said. “But we are all going as CU skiers. We will be wearing CU gear.”
Opening ceremonies for the event take place at 7:30 p.m. local time on Thursday. Races begin with the women’s Super G on Saturday and the men’s Super G on Sunday.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Esteban L. Hernandez at Esteban.firstname.lastname@example.org.