Locals training for Summer Biathlon National Championships | SierraSun.com

Locals training for Summer Biathlon National Championships

Special to the Sun

Courtesy photo Phil Violett, 26, trains last week at the range; he is a longtime member of Auburn Ski Club (since he was 7 years old).

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The National Summer Biathlon Championships are coming to Tahoe next week. Auburn Ski Club is hosting the event at its Training Center on Donner Summit. Organizers report that entries are coming in from across the nation to take part in this annual test of running and shooting skills.

Summer biathlon has grown out of one of the original Winter Olympic sports of biathlon, in which athletes challenge their cross-country ski and shooting skills. Biathlon has become one of the most watched of the winter sports in Europe and is gaining popularity in America.

In winter, biathletes cross-country ski a course carrying a specialized .22 caliber rifle on their backs, stopping to shoot at targets 50 meters away. Each shooting round involves five shots with a 150-meter penalty loop being required to be skied for each miss.

In summer, biathletes leave their rifles on the range and replace skiing with running. The shooting is the same and#8212; runners have to calm their breathing and pulse as they enter the range so they can have the best chance to hit the targets which are 50 meters away, and just 115 millimeter rounds for standing rounds and 45 millimeters for prone rounds.

The Auburn Ski Club has the only biathlon shooting range in the region, attracting athletes year-round who wish to try biathlon and train for local and regional competitions.

Phil Violett, a club member, has his sights set on following his coachesand#8217; lead to make the National Team and competing in the Winter Olympics. Club Coach Glenn Jobe and#8212; an Olympian in the 1980 Games and#8212; is excited about the growth in interest in biathlon, and with the help of other enthusiasts is working with a group of juniors and masters to get them ready for the National Championships.

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The local event takes place Aug. 24-26 at its Training Center on Donner Summit (next to Boreal Mountain Resort). There will also be a 3-kilometer novice race and 1-kilometer youth race offered Saturday, Aug. 25 (no experience required and#8212; mandatory safety clinic will be given before the race). More details can be found at Auburn Ski Cluband#8217;s website, http://www.auburnskiclub.org/nordic/ biathlon, or by emailing biathlon@assoc.auburnskiclub.org.