Shooting & skiing all the way to the podium
Three Grand County biathletes made it to the awards podium three times each during the United States Biathlon Championships conducted last weekend (March 24-26) in Jericho, Vermont.
All three skiers are members of the Colorado Biathlon Club, which has a shooting range at the Nordic center at Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies near Granby.
Biathlon is a winter sport that combines the endurance of Nordic skiing with the skill of marksmanship. Skiers compete by completing a series of anywhere from two-kilometer to four-kilometer loops interspersed with shooting bouts, attempting to hit targets that are 50 meters from the firing point. The skiers shoot in both the prone and standing positions.
Dave Cleveland of Fraser, just after missing the podium by one spot each in two events at the World National Biathlon Championships in Finland two weeks ago, showed up in Jericho, Vermont ready to ski.
Cleveland managed a second place finish in his age group (veteran masters men) for the sprint race on Friday, March 24. He shot 70 percent in that day’s event and made it to the podium. Cleveland took third place on Saturday, March 25, making it to the podium again, followed by another second place finish on Sunday, March 26.
Sebastian Brower of Granby, who is a skier with the new Winter Park Competition Center’s Nordic program and who has received additional coaching help from the Casper Mountain (Wyoming) Biathlon Club and skied with the Middle Park High School Nordic team, managed to earn two second place finishes on Friday and Sunday in the sprint and the mass start, while taking a third place finish on Saturday in the pursuit.
Brower was skiing in the senior boy’s division (15-16). He was only 4.5 seconds behind the leader in the closely contested mass start race on Sunday, significantly closing the gap from his race on Saturday.
Patrick Brower, skiing in the senior veteran master’s men’s division (the really old guys), managed to take three first place finishes over the weekend, overcoming lackluster shooting with relatively strong skiing.
Another Colorado Biathlon Club-affiliated skier, Joanne Reid, who is a member of the U.S. Biathlon Team, had two second place finishes behind World Cup medal winner Susan Dunklee in the most competitive class for the woman.
The U.S. Biathlon Team skied in all the events at the U.S. Championships.
The 2016-17 ski season has proven to be a banner year for the team as one of its men skiers, Lowell Bailey, earned the first-ever gold medal for the U.S. team during a World Cup event in Austria six weeks ago.
As well, Susan Dunklee has earned two silver medals in World Cup Biathlon racing this year, marking another high mark for biathlon and Nordic skiing in the U.S.
The U.S. team members gave talks, demonstrations and offered instruction to younger skiers who were at the weekend-long event at the Ethan Allen firing range in the snowy hills of Vermont.
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For the oldest members of the Middle Park High School girls soccer squad, it’s been a spring they won’t ever forget.