Schloss shoots down competition |

Schloss shoots down competition

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunSkiers practice shooting in the rifle range after the 10th Mountain Division Biathlon race at Auburn Ski Club on Sunday.

There are basically three types of racers who compete in the annual 10th Mountain Division Biathlon race at Auburn Ski Club, a combination of cross country ski speed and rifle marksmanship skills.

There are the folks who view the biathlon race as a novelty event, possibly the only race they compete in all season. There are the rifle/military types, who may have only Nordic skied a brief amount of time but like the idea of a physical challenge to go along with their shooting skills. And then there are true cross country ski racers, individuals who usually can only pray to hit one of the small, round targets on the rifle range but who can ski like the wind and make up ore than enough time during their “penalty laps” to take the day’s crown.

Held on Sunday, the 10th Mountain Division Biathlon is an event steeped in tradition, honoring the military division who fought on skis during World War II and beyond. The day was highlighted by the presence of 85-year-old Chuck Hardesty, one of the surviving members of the 10th Mountain Division.

In beautiful sunshine with spring-like conditions, it was once again the Nordic racers who carried the day, and it was once again a set of familiar faces on the podium with the fastest overall times in this 9-kilometer competition.

It was Jeff Schloss of Truckee, the winner of the 2004 edition of this event, exacting his revenge over 2005 and 2006 champion Jakub Benes of Oakland. Schloss combined a minimal amount of shooting expertise (he hit two out of 10 targets) with incredible skiing speed to easily outdistance his competitors by more than a minute, finishing with a time of 28 minutes and 43 seconds.

“I had really fast skis today,” said Schloss, humbly adding, “As it got slower out there on the tracks, good skis and wax made a big difference.”

Benes combined a three-of-10 shooting accuracy with fast racing to finish second (29:58), while Truckee’s August Brautigam managed third overall with a time of 30:19.

In the women’s division, Truckee’s Emma Garrard threw her hat into the ring at the last minute and managed to easily outdistance her competition with a time of 37 minutes and 6 seconds. Nevada City’s Hollie McGovern, a top bike racer in California, came in with a time of 41:37, while Gina Milner was the third female with a time of 42:42.

For the juniors, Spencer Wood of Truckee had the top time of the day (fourth fastest overall) in 30:50, while Truckee’s Rachell Nadell was the top female junior in the 9-kilometer race with a time of 44:55.

For those who didn’t choose to ski in the 9-kilometer “Pro” division, there was a 3-kilometer event for both juniors and novices. Truckee’s Jordan McElroy took top honors overall with a time of 13:22, while Raylene Chew of San Jose was the fastest girl with a time of 20:06.

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