Despite rapid snow melt over the past couple of weeks, Cross Country Ski Headquarters scraped together a very fun and entertaining Paintball Biathlon this past Saturday.
Using what was left of the artificial snow made back in December, Bob, Stu and crew created a twisty, hilly, 200-yard loop course on the ski park, which was just long enough to get the skiers out of breath and make shooting the guns an exciting challenge. People came from as far away as Ohio and Pennsylvania to try their hands at this very cool and, in Michigan, rare sport, albeit with some changes from the traditional version (rather than having the skiers carry the guns with them as they skied, the paintball guns were kept at the shooting stations throughout the race, and instead of skiing penalty laps for missed shots, racers instead got 10 seconds deducted from their total finish time for each target they hit).
This year’s biathlon was held in a head-to-head match racing format in order to conduct a double-elimination tournament. This not only created a very fun race atmosphere, but excellent spectating! Everyone got to ski in at least two races and as many as eight, as did second place overall finisher, Jared Craigg from Cleveland. There were two divisions: the Open Division, where racers skied a total of 8 laps and shot 20 targets per race; and a Citizens Division, which was half of that.
Kaitlyn Patterson and Dave Borton
The first overall finisher in the Open Division was Reid Goble from Harbor Springs, followed closely by Jared Craigg. It was a very exciting finale, because due to the way a double elimination round works, Reid and Jared also faced each other in the semi-finals. Reid was undefeated at that point, and Jared had one loss, so all Reid had to do in the semi’s was beat Jared and he would have won the whole thing. Jared, however, despite racing the most of anyone all day with shorter and shorter breaks in between races, just barely edged out Reid by 3 seconds for the win. That being Reid’s first loss meant that Jared would have to beat him again to win the championship round.
After a short break, they approached the starting line for the last time to see who would be able to not just ski faster (they had been crossing the finish line within 2-3 seconds of each other all day), but hit the most targets. They both skied amazingly fast around the short, technical course, and Jared ended up flying through the finish line one second ahead of Reid. But, Reid hit 11 targets to Jared’s 6, giving Reid a 1 minute and 50 second time deduction, and Jared only a 1 minute deduction. It was a dramatic ending, which gave Reid the overall win and made the whole thing very fun to watch. Reid’s father, John Goble, came in 3rd place, and Kaitlyn Patterson and Jared Craigg tied for the Sharp Shooter award in the Open Division, each hitting 13 target in one race.
First overall in the Citizens Division was Hap Wright, with Dianne Patterson coming in 2nd and Chloe Lawson in 3rd. Dianne and Hap tied for the Sharp Shooter award in the Citizens Division, with each of them hitting 4 targets in one race.
With sunny skies and a fresh breeze, the conditions were pretty much perfect for this unique and entertaining annual event, although hopefully in future years there will be a little more snow!