Steamboat Springs Everything was a mess Sunday afternoon after Marty Smith's plane finally touched down at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
His final day of biathlon competition at the North American Championships at Mount Itasca in Coleraine, Minn., hadn't gone as he had hoped with a nasty cold slowing his skiing and throwing off his rifle shots.
Upon landing in Routt County, still plagued by the cold, he realized the bag that contained his skis was ripped, its contents spilling out. That proved a blessing compared to the fate of his rifle, lost by the airline when he switched planes in Dallas.
The worst - and best - part of it all, he had to line up an expensive plane ticket for an unexpected trip to Vancouver, launching the 20-year-old Steamboat Springs athlete back on the road after only two days in his own bed.
It's all worth it, Smith said Sunday.
He skied and shot well enough Thursday and Friday in Minnesota to be one of only 10 American boys invited to next weekend's Canadian National Championships, set to run in Vancouver on the 2010 Olympic course.
Forget time to relax - if his cold is in check, he's going to Canada.
"I was pretty excited when I heard about it," Smith said. "That was going to be my last race, and I was going to start kayaking after the snow melts."
He said he'd gladly keep the boat in storage a few more weeks.
Smith finished fourth Thursday and was third Friday. He said his shooting improved for Friday's race before his health slowed him Saturday.
"It was a really good weekend," he said. "The first race, I didn't ski very fast but shot 50 percent. The second day, I skied fast and I shot well, 70 percent, and I came in third.
"Sunday I was feeling sick, and it was a really hard course. I didn't ski fast or shoot well."
Smith said it's still up in the air as to whether he'll join the U.S. developmental team. Doing so would send him to Lake Placid, N.Y., next winter to train.
Either way, he said he's thrilled to get the opportunity to continue his biathlon season one more week.
"After this weekend, I think I'll have a meeting with the coaches and see what I'm going to do with them next year," he said. "It's pretty exciting."