Biathletes collect state titles

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Even Gary Osteen, the coach of Colorado's only competitive biathlon-training program, was a little shocked at how well his team did at the state championships.

Competing at Snow Mountain Ranch near Fraser in the Colorado Biathlon Club's Colorado Biathlon State Championships, Evan Weinman, Jasper Gantick and Spencer Petersen all took home titles, and Garrison Osteen finished second.

"I'm proud of the kids," said Gary Osteen, who competed in the adult portion of the championships. "They've been training and racing. It's the fifth year for our program, and each year it's grown a little and had more participation."

During the first day of the two-day event, competitors compete in a sprint event, which determines how they start in the pursuit the next day.

Competing in the 12 and younger category, Gary Osteen said Garrison and Evan shot very well.

Garrison shot clean and Evan missed one during the standing portion of the sprint.

Then in the pursuit, both shot clean in the prone position, and they each missed five of the 10 shots standing up.

The youth races involve four shooting bouts of five targets. For each shot missed, a 150-meter penalty lap is enforced.

Gary Osteen said Jasper, who was competing in the 16 and younger category, used fast skiing and quick range times to take home the title.

Competitors younger than 13 shoot pellet guns from 10 meters away, and the older participants shoot .22-caliber rifles from 50 meters away.

"The sport is really about the contradiction of it," Osteen said. "It's a challenge to ski hard, settle down and shoot fast and accurate."

For Osteen, who has coached the team for the past five years, it's the conflicting parts of the sport that keep him coming back.

He said this year's team consists of about 15 members, and he hopes to see it grow in the near future. He said the results from the weekend confirm that the biathlon could possibly be a staple in Steamboat Springs' future.

"We had a really good weekend," Osteen said. "I started because I thought it was the coolest sport in the world. Right now, it's not a huge or deep sport, but it's on the rise."

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