Tahoe Expedition Academy introduces Biathlon

Special to the Sun
Courtesy Tahoe Expedidiont Academy

Tahoe Expedition Academy (TEA) made a huge commitment to the sport of Biathlon by training and outfitting 13 student athletes, fourth through eighth-grade for the school’s inaugural Biathlon team. TEA’s Biathlon Head Coach Lorenzo Worster trained his team three days a week for two months, including intense skate-ski racing sessions, target shooting, and gun safety training.  

Biathlon is a winter Olympic sport. Competition consists of a cross-country race on hilly terrain, where the total distance is broken up by two shooting rounds, half in prone position, the other half standing. Depending on the shooting performance, extra distance or time is added to the contestant’s total running distance/time. As in most races, the contestant with the shortest total time wins. The control of fine motor skills and breathing required to shoot with accuracy after the skiing segment makes this a demanding, challenging sport. The athlete who can slow their heart rate down the fastest tends to hit more of the five targets.

The biathlon race that culminated TEA’s Biathlon team season was the 10th Mountain Division Biathlon at Auburn Ski Club on Feb. 24. Top TEA finishers included 10-year-olds Tashi Ferris in the girls division and Cole Chaney in the boys division who each snagged a 4th place finish in the 2K youth race. Top TEA finishers in the 4K novice race were Gabriel Larrabee, who placed 7th for boys, and Brodie Swan who placed 5th for girls. Head coach Lorenzo Worster said, “I am so proud of the accomplishments our inaugural Biathlon team has seen at TEA. Most of these kids had never stepped into skate skis until two months ago, but they took the endurance and target training very seriously. Everyone finished in the top 10 in their age group.”

Coach Worster is a full time teacher at the school, and has three years experience as a Nordic ski coach. During his 10-year racing career, Worster was a three-time junior Olympian Nordic skier, and spent two years competing in youth biathlons.

Most impressive are the team athletes who decided to compete in their first Great Ski Race on March 3, which is a 30K journey from Tahoe Cross Country ski area to downtown Truckee.

“I was thrilled to see the grit and determination five of my athletes displayed in taking on the Great Ski Race,” said Coach Worster. “Character development and outdoor adventure along with academics are the cornerstones of each child’s education at TEA, and these kids showed everyone they’ve got it dialed.”

The 10-year-olds showed their stuff again with top 10 finishes. Tashi Ferris finished 5th in her division with a time of 4:22:47, and Cole Chaney finished 9th in his division with a time of 4:23:18. Middle schoolers Mitchell Martin, Nat Redfern, and Jacob Saunders stole the 15th, 16th, and 17th places respectively in their division with times between 4:45:00 and 4:50:00. Eighth-grader Mitchell Martin summed up the team’s sentiments about the race experience, “The raceway was exhausting, with no end to the hills. The conditions were terrible, with rocks showing on the trail and slush everywhere. Halfway through, it started raining. However the race was still fun, and it heightened camaraderie with my fellow racers from TEA.”

Tahoe Expedition Academy is gaining attention as a leading Expeditionary Learning school in the Tahoe Basin. Coach Worster, like the other teachers at TEA, incorporate adventure into the challenging academic curriculum, take intentional calculated risk and use the natural environment as a classroom in order to create a “peak state” for learning.

“Biathlon … integrates the traits of courage, calculated risk-taking, and personal achievement which we work hard to instill in our students,” said TEA Co-director and Middle School Teacher Taylor Simmers.

Tahoe Expedition Academy in Kings Beach is currently accepting applications

The new Tahoe Expedition Academy High School has an open forum on March 13, 6-7:30 p.m. at Uncorked in Tahoe City. Visit for open house dates.

— Submitted by Deanna Chaney,

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