Local biathlon organizers seek input

U.S. Biathlon Team member Andrea Nahrgang catches her breath as she reaches for her rifle during the women’s 7.5 km sprint biathlon race at the 2002 Utah Winter Olympic Games.

A winter sport that began as an alternative training program for Norwegian soldiers and now is the most popular winter sport in Europe, with millions of viewers each week tuning in for World Cup competitions, might be headed for Grand Mesa.

The Grand Mesa Nordic Council is seeking interest in and feasibility of beginning a biathlon program on Grand Mesa.

For those who failed to pay attention during the recent Winter Olympics in Utah, biathlon is the combination of skate skiing and precision target shooting and, according to its participants, is wildly addictive.

Biathletes ski as fast as they can, then quickly calm down to hit a target the size of a half-dollar 50 meters away from a prone position and one the size of a coffee cup saucer from a standing position.

When lycra-clad biathletes are flying through packed stadiums, shooting targets the size of golf balls from half a football field away, all while their heart is racing and their chest heaving, 20 million people across Europe tune in for the prime-time coverage.

“Five, six, seven years ago, more people were watching alpine skiing and cross country,” says Johanna Reimers, a journalist with Sweden’s second-largest daily, Expressen. “Now, biathlon is the biggest TV winter sport in Sweden, and that’s all Helena (Jonsson, member of Sweden’s national biathlon team).”

If you’re interested in trying your hands (feet) at this sport, which became an official Olympic event in 1960, the GMNC is hosting an informational meeting in early January, depending on the interest shown.

Anyone interested or even idly curious about a local biathlon program should contact Lew Kirkegaard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) before the end of the year.

If you’re really interested in trying a race (no rifle needed), contact Kirkegaard soon because a certification clinic is set for Jan. 5 at Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park.


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