HOUGHTON — Senior Nordic Skier Anabel Needham has qualified for the FIS Nordic U23 World Ski Championships in Whistler, B.C., from Jan. 29-31.
“I am really looking forward to skiing for my first time in Canada, from what I’ve heard and seen in photos, it’s just beautiful,” Needham said. “I am excited for the opportunity to race an atypical NCAA race format (classic sprint) as well as a typical NCAA race format (classic 20km mass start).”
Her first of two races will take place on Sunday (Jan. 29) as she competes in the classic sprint. Her second race will be the classic 20km mass start on Tuesday (Jan. 31).
“This is the second time in back-to-back years that Anabel has qualified for the FIS Nordic U23 World Ski Championships,” head coach Tom Monahan Smith and assistant coach Kristen Monahan Smith said. “We know her experience is going to serve her well for this event as she knows what to expect from the competitive environment. We also know she is absolutely going to love competing at the historic venue in Whistler, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, with an amazing team surrounding her!”
Of note, athletes are selected based on their ranking of their top two-of-four results at the 2023 U.S. Cross Country Ski National Championships, held at Michigan Tech the first week of January. A total of five U23 women are selected based on this criteria to represent Team USA at the FIS Nordic U23 World Ski Championships.
Needham, a native of Houghton, qualified as the fourth-ranked U23 women, following her third-place finish in the skate sprint and fifth-place finish in the skate mass start distance among U23 women at the 2023 U.S. Cross Country Ski National Championships.
Most recently, Needham competed in four events at the FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, New York, where she finished 13th in the skate sprint, 17th in the classic 5km & skate 5km pursuit. She concluded her time at the FISU World University Games in the 3x5km women’s relay where Team USA placed 10th.
The coaching staff are excited for Needham making her second trip to the U23 World Ski Championships.
“Anabel has such a strong competitive mindset, and she exemplifies a true love for the sport, and a true love for the team aspect of it! She is going to represent Team USA with incredible pride and leadership at the U23 World Ski Championships, and we couldn’t be more excited for her to continue to show the world what an amazing athlete she is,” coaches Tom and Kristen Monahan Smith added.
“I am ready to give my best efforts against some of the best in the world. Shoutout to all of my teammates that have been doing the same lately, we are writing the history of skiing at Michigan Tech, and it’s going to be a good story to tell,” Needham added.
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