Saturday, January 25, 2003
Steamboat Springs Competitors from around the country are scheduled to take part in this year's International Muzzle Loading Ski Biathlon, marking the 29th straight year this event has been a part of the Winter Carnival.
The Ski Biathlon blends cross country skiing with black powder rifles. This year's race is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at Howelsen Hill.
Participants ski four times around a cross country course at the base of Howelsen. Each time around, the racers stop and shoot at three targets, reloading their rifles after each shot.
The racers are given 12 shots to hit nine targets at an average of 30 yards away from the racer.
The average target size is three inches, and the targets are traditionally made of dough cut into the shapes of stars or animals.
All participants must be 18 years or older.
There are two classes in the Ski Biathlon -- open and traditional.
The open class is for those participants who prefer the traditional in-line cross country skis and race attire.
The traditional class, however, provides the Ski Biathlon with its historical flavor. To compete in this class, competitors must wear 19th century clothing and use ski equipment predating the 1940s.
Some racers opt to use antique rifles, while others use contemporary ones. Either is acceptable.
"Some people I do imagine practice quite a bit," racer Mike Bieron said. "Others I'm sure dust off the rifle and come out. It's basically a camaraderie event."
Participants in this year's Ski Biathlon, like years past, can also bring items to a pre-1840s "garage sale" table for trade, barter or sale.
Bieron won a handmade, maple jewelry box last year.
Generally, he said, many of the items brought to the sale are of the handcraft nature, but other items such as knives, hunting pouches or other muzzle loading accouterment pop up.
Those who plan on participating in the Feb. 8 event can register on race- day or at Boggs Hardware.
Cost to enter the race is $20 and racers must also purchase a $7 Winter Carnival button.
Spectators are also welcome to come to the Ski Biathlon. Most of this year's expected participants are locals, but an event like the Muzzle-Loading Ski Biathlon isn't a competition witnessed everyday so Bieron encouraged anyone interested to come out.