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Perfect ski conditions at West Yellowstone

Training for Biathlon

Sat, Jan  12, 2002 - By Greg Rudl (Ohio Nordic Ski Club)

I’m glad to report that the Rendezvous Trail at West Yellowstone, Mont., is immaculate, having just returned from there. I, along with six members of the Ohio National Guard Biathlon team, performed our annual training camp Dec. 27 to Jan. 4. We postponed the trip twice due to sketchy snow conditions earlier.

It snowed two to three inches just about every day and the trails were groomed regularly--even though there weren’t many people skiing on them. With conditions so good, it was hard not to overdue it. I couldn’t say no to the “Spam Cup” 15k freestyle race held on the 4th and struggled to a mediocre finish, mainly due to fatigue.

Our training routine included shooting and skiing in the a.m. and then just skiing without a rifle on our back in the afternoon. We also did abbreviated races and shoot-offs. I came into training camp this year in good shape so I didn’t feel as irritable and tired as in previous years.

Training easy at almost 7,000 feet and staying in zone 1 can be almost impossible. I found classical technique allowed me to accomplish this, while almost walking up hills. 

We were lucky to meet a local with a kind heart who had snowmobiles who took us on a 60 mile round trip tour to see Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

A local, who volunteers at the biathlon range, told me that last year Olympic biathlon teams came here to train. They shot mainly on paper and would take the targets back to the hotel for study.

One drawback to the area is the constant roar of snowmobiles and the pollution they put out. When the winds are right, you can see and smell an exhaust induced haze near the front part of the trail system. The only thing the system lacks is some steep, technical sections. The dining establishments were mediocre and overpriced. We couldn’t find a big-screen T.V. in town to watch the Buckeyes win the National Championship. All-in-all, a good time. It was sad to say goodbye to that foot base, sculptured tracks and crisp corduroy.