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Skiers take a shot at biathlon

Sun., Feb. 13, 2011

The Methow Valley Biathlon Team offers clinics teaching the sport that combines cross-country skiing and marksmanship during the Methow Valley Winter Festival in late February based in Winthrop, Wash.
The Methow Valley Biathlon Team offers clinics teaching the sport that combines cross-country skiing and marksmanship during the Methow Valley Winter Festival in late February based in Winthrop, Wash.

Sport of exertion and calmness taught at Methow Winter Fest

Biathlon ranks among the most frustrating sports on the planet, which is exactly why it’s fun.

The idea is that you do a sport, nordic ski racing, which requires living near your maximum heart rate, then you stop periodically to do a sport, precision rifle shooting, which requires a calm attained only by focused relaxation and meditation to attain freakishly slow heart rates.

The two sports are incompatible, and balancing the two demands is the art of biathlon. It will make you crazy and happy at the same time (which is kind of what being Scandinavian is like for some of us even when we’re not skiing biathlon).

If you want to do biathlon, you could go to a place where it’s wildly popular, like Germany or Ukraine or any of the Scandinavian countries, where at least you’ll be frustrated among the frustrated.

Alternatively, you could go to northcentral Washington’s Methow Valley, which has one of a handful of biathlon ranges in the United States.

The sport requires no special ski equipment beyond skate skis, poles, and boots. But the rifles are light, target .22 caliber fitted with backpack-style harnesses.

Two “Try Biathlon” events are scheduled near Winthrop, Wash., during the Methow Valley Winter Festival, ( mvsta.com/winter/) which has numerous events including races, doggie dashes, kids ski rodeos and more, scheduled from Friday-Feb. 27.

The valley’s biathlon team coaches will put on the events Feb. 23 and Feb. 26 to assure that everyone has fun and that safety is a priority.

If you decide to try this sport, you’re likely to have something resembling fun.



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