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Campbell, Needham set for FIS World Junior/U23 Championships

Michigan Tech Nordic ski team members Anabel Needham (left) and Wes Campbell pose for a selfie before the FIS World Junior/U23 Championships in Planica, Slovenia. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech Nordic Skiing student-athletes Wes Campbell and Anabel Needham are set to compete at the FIS World Junior/U23 Championships in Planica, Slovenia, on Feb. 6-9. 

QUALIFICATION

For U23s, athletes were selected based on their ranking of their top 2 of four results at the 2024 U.S. Cross Country Ski National Championships that were held at Soldier Hollow, Utah, from Jan. 2-7. A total of five U23 women are selected based on this criteria to represent Team USA at the FIS Nordic U23 World Ski Championships.

Anabel qualified as the fifth-ranked U23 women, having finished third in the Classic Sprint and eighth in both the Skate 20km Mass Start and Skate Sprint at U.S. Nationals. 

For Juniors, athletes were selected based on their ranking of their top 2 of three races at the 2024 U.S. Cross Country Ski National Championships. Wes qualified as the fifth ranked Junior Man, having finished fourth in the Skate 10km Mass Start, and winning the Junior Skate Sprint at U.S. Nationals.

THOUGHTS FROM THE HUSKIES COACHES TOM AND KRISTEN MONAHAN SMITH

“Wes has had a stellar competition season, and he had a truly outstanding U.S. Nationals to earn his spot on this World Junior Championship Team! Wes is a down right fearless competitor and he never lets pressure get to him! Those are two amazing qualities to possess in the championship setting, and we know this will allow him to have his best races as he’ll treat these championships as he does any other race, by just going out there and skiing as hard and as fast as he can!

“We truly believe Anabel is ready to have her best World U23 Championships! Anabel has been racing faster and faster through every race and every competition weekend this season, and this has her so well prepared for these championships! She gives it everything she’s got in every competition and this is truly Anabel’s greatest strength, what’s got her to these championships and what brings her continual competitive growth! She brings a breadth of experience into these championships having competed at U23s the past two years, and if there is one thing she continues to prove it’s that she deserves to be here and she’s ready to compete with the best of them!”

RACE SCHEDULE

Needham will compete in the Skate Sprint on Feb. 6 and the Skate 20km Mass Start on Feb. 8. Campbell is slated to race in the Skate 20km Mass Start on Feb. 7 and the Classic 10km Interval Start on Feb. 9. 

Of note, Both Needham and Campbell have the opportunity to race the relay on Feb. 11.

Relay Teams will be selected by the U.S. Team staff based on performances over this year and at the Championship.

This will be the third trip to the U23 World Ski Championships for Needham, a native of Houghton, Michigan.  

“It’s really special to make my third World Ski Championships-I never thought I’d make one team so to make it a third time is pretty crazy-It was a really competitive field this year so it was a surprise for sure,” Needham said. “The competition here is incredibly deep and challenging but also inspiring-it’s fun to race collegiate athletes and also other professionals as well..”

Campbell, hailing from Park City, Utah, will be appearing in his first World Junior Championships.

“The most exciting thing for me in this championship is to be able to compete against people all over the world,” Campbell mentioned. “My main goals for this trip is to have fun and see where I rank against a global field.”

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