Raphael Bechtiger of the Michigan Tech Nordic ski team will represent his home country of Austria at the upcoming World University Games in Trentino, Italy. He will ski three events over the next week as the only representative from his country in cross country skiing.
"It's a great honor to ski for Austria and to be recognized as a fast skier," Bechtiger said. "I look forward to skiing fast and representing Michigan Tech and my country."
Bechtiger will ski in the double pursuit race on Thursday (Dec. 12) with a 7.5-kilometer mass start classic followed by a 7.5K freestyle. Saturday (Dec. 14) he'll compete in the sprint classic and will wrap-up the games with a 10K individual freestyle on Dec. 17.
"It's great to have one of our athletes make their national team," Tech coach Joe Haggenmiller said. "It's one our program's goals to have athletes representing their nation as they develop at Tech. Having Raphael in Italy representing Michigan Tech will get the word out that we have a top-notch ski program and can help us down the road in recruiting."
The 11-day festival is held every two years and will have more than 2,500 participants. It is the biggest global winter multi-sports event for student-athletes and features alpine skiing, cross country skiing, Nordic combined, ski-jumping, biathlon, snowboarding, curling, ice hockey, figure skating, synchronized skating and short track speed skating.
"I'll be the only cross country skier for Austria," Bechtiger added. "Some of my former high school classmates are skiing Nordic combined and snowboard so it'll be fun to spend some time with them."
Embracing the International University Sports Fedearation's motto of 'Excellence in Mind and Body', the World University Games incorporate educational and cultural aspects into the 11 days of sports competitions, allowing university student-athletes worldwide to celebrate with the host city in a true spirit of friendship and sportsmanship.
Trentino is located in the heart of the Alps with 1,300 kilometers of ski slopes and cross country ski trail. The city has hosted the Alpine Skiing and Cross Country Skiing World Cups and the Mountain Bike and Snowboard World Championships. Roughly 100 international events take place in Trentino every year.