The track was a little icy, but the weather was perfect for Hidden Valley Nature Center’s first biathlon on Sunday. Unlike the intensity at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Fort Kent, the Jefferson event on the 1000-acre wildlife preserve, was a laid back and fun event for all ages. There are 26 miles of trail at HVNC, with 12 to 14 miles of trail groomed for cross-country skiing.
The biathlon was planned as a learning event to introduce youth and adults alike to the winter sport of biathlon. Before the event, participants were given cross-country skiing tips, and taught to shoot the CO2 (carbon dioxide) pellet guns used in the competition.
Biathlon combines the sports of cross-country skiing and precision target shooting.
The sport’s origin began in Norway in 1861 when it was used as alternative training for the military. The first known ski club, the Trysil Rifle and Ski Club was founded in Norway in 1861 to promote national defense on a local level.
Biathlon was demonstrated at the Olympic Winter Games in 1928, 1936 and 1948. The first Biathlon World Championship was held in 1958 and the first Olympic Biathlon in 1960 at Squaw Valley, Cal. It did not become an Olympic sport for women until 1992.
There are six different competitions in the biathlon, the individual (20K), sprint (10K for men and 7.5K for women), pursuit, mass start, relay and mixed relay. In each competition, competitors alternate skiing a loop and shooting at a target.
The sport originally used high-powered rifles with firing distances ranging from 100m to 250m. In 1978 the .22 long rifle rimfire cartridge gun became the standard and the target was reduced to 50m.
Biathlon competitors carry their rifle and ammo cartridges on their backs.
Because the HVNC event was a teaching event and children were participating, the pellet guns remained at the shooting station at all times, and the event was supervised by adults.
Typically in a biathlon, participants ski a loop, shoot at a target in the prone position, ski a loop and shoot in a standing position then finish up with another loop of skiing.
There are two to four shooting rounds per race, depending on the race. A penalty is assessed for missing the target, usually skiing a penalty lap, additional time added, or having to shoot an extra cartridge until the target is hit.
The biathlon at Hidden Valley used a staggered start of 15-second intervals. Participants in the youth races skied two 1k loops (total of 1.24 miles), with one target shooting station in between; participants in the adult and teen division skied three 1k loops and had two target shooting stops for a total of 1.86 miles; and beginners skied two shorter loops of less than a half mile. At each shooting station stop, participants shot at five circle targets from a prone position.
Event organizer Gary Hayward was pleased with the turnout for the event and said, “It was unbelievable.”
Fifty-five competed in four race divisions, including local cross-country enthusiasts, and members of the Teens to Trail Club, the Southern Maine Biathlon Club, and the Phippsburg Youth Nordic Skiing program.
“Someone said there were 140 people there,” not counting the 20 volunteers, Hayward said. Previous to the biathlon, the half marathon trail run last fall was HVNC’s biggest event with 44 participants.
“This was bigger, I can’t imagine it if we had had snow. It was more than anticipated. It went off without a hitch. We want to do it again next year. I’m looking forward to next year,” Hayward said.
HVNC is considering holding a four-week pre-race training cross-country session before their second annual event in 2013.
Snowshoe division: 1. Laurie Campaneli-Stove, 10:43.
Beginner division: 1. Kerri Lilly, 14:31; 2. Kelly Lilly, 14:56; 3. Jamie Houghton, 17:27; 4. Lorna Fake, 17:42; 5. Steven Osborne, 19:08; 6. Jesse Thompson, 22:48; 7. Corin Nelsen, 23:24; and 8. Erin Osborne, 25:19.
Adult division: 1. Lawrence Kovacs, 24:16; 2. Adrien Bossi, 24:44; 3. Eric Snyder, 26:52; 4. Max Bradstadt, 27:10; 5. Mark Endrizzi, 28:43; 6. Cipperly Good, 29:49 (first female); 7. Ken Gross, 29:59; 8. Tom Fake, 31:04; 9. Jill Meek, 32:04 (second female); 10. Elena Britos, 32L28; 11. Gavin Felch, 33:26; 12. Martin Getrich, 34:17; 13. Bambi Jones, 34:26 (third female); 14. Sharon Zelonish, 35:20; 15. Phoebe Keyes, 38:27; 16. Turner Kelsey, 40:08; 17. Hannah Tennent, 40:19; 18. Janine Parziale, 40:30; 19. Seth Barker, 41:08; 20. Paul Dumdee, 43:44; 21. Aileen Tschiderer, 44;10; 22. Mark Phelps, 44:30; 23. Bii Barron, 45:45; 24. Dennis Labbe, 45:45; 25. Emily Weinberger, 46:09; 26. Peter Fisher, 49:36; 27. Courtney Payne, 50:59; 28. Ivona Cetinic, 51:14; 29. Mary Barksdale, 51:16; and 30. Christina Curtin, 51:42.