Truckee’s Wood shows biathlon skills |

Truckee’s Wood shows biathlon skills

Mark Nadell/Provided to the SunTruckee's Spencer Wood hangs onto a slim lead over Dustin Kilpatrick going into the final lap of the 9-kilometer Pursuit event on Saturday at Auburn Ski Club.

“Run fast and shoot straight” was the order of the day for the 35 athletes who visited Auburn Ski Club on Saturday for the Summer Biathlon Race over the twisting trails of the training center.

Although usually better known as a winter sport, biathlon also has its summer proponents, using running instead of cross-country skiing to complement the marksmanship aspects of this demanding activity.

Saturday’s event had two separate races: A morning “Sprint” race of 3 kilometers, in which athletes ran three laps of a 1K course on the trails interspersed with two segments in which participants would shoot .22-caliber rifles at five targets against the Auburn Ski Club ski jump hill. Participants would then need to race around a short penalty loop for every target they missed.

The afternoon race was set up as a “Pursuit” format, in which participants would race six times around a 1.2-kilometer course interspersed with four shooting segments ” two laying on the ground and two standing upright. Since the 6K start was staggered according to the racers’ earlier times, the first racer to cross the line would be the winner of the overall Pursuit race.

The morning race was a true dogfight between local Far West Nordic junior Spencer Wood and Dustin Kilpatrick, a young rifle marksman from the Bay Area entering his second biathlon.

Kilpatrick prevailed in the 3K sprint on the basis of his excellent shooting, with Wood a close second, and fellow Far West teammate Russell Kennedy coming in third.

In the women’s division, Sophie Aaron of Truckee, another Far West Junior, had the fastest time in the 3K, followed by Nicole Whiting and Mary Ellen Benier. Only a couple of racers were able to go directly from the rifle range to the running course in the morning event, including ASC Junior Development Team member Rachell Nadell, who shot a clean 10-for-10 in the 3K Youth division, along with Truckee’s Jamin Parker. Other racers weren’t so fortunate, making themselves dizzy by having to run multiple laps around the penalty loop.

After a short interlude for a barbecue lunch, the afternoon event featured the Pursuit format, with a few racers entering the fray who had not raced in the morning. One of those included former Far West Nordic Junior Olympian Patrick Lane of Nevada City, who showed his running speed and shooting abilities by winning the 6K event by more than a minute.

But the real race was on between Wood and Kilpatrick, who were fighting for the overall title of the day. They were neck and neck until the final lap, when Truckee’s Wood put the accelerator down and took the victory by a scant three seconds over his competitor.

When Aaron opted out in the longer afternoon race, it was a dogfight between Benier and Whiting, with Mary Ellen Benier, Alder Creek Middle School’s assistant Nordic coach, edging out her 6K rival by 26 seconds. Third place was taken by Truckee’s Angela Raso, another member of the Far West Junior team.

Full results from the event and a gallery of photos are available online at

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