Casper, Wyoming – Athletes from across the Rocky Mountain West and beyond met in Casper, Wyoming last month (March 21st & 22nd) for head-to-head competition in the US Biathlon’s Western Regional Championships.
The races were hosted by Casper Mountain Biathlon Club and featured athletes of all age categories including adaptive athletes competing for medals in multiple (distance) events. Mother Nature was gracious to the racers providing blue skies and chilly temperatures on Saturday and 6 inches of fresh powder on Sunday morning. The blue skies, fresh snow, and the rocky mountain forests provided a majestic setting for the event and enjoyed by athletes, volunteers, and spectators alike. Fifty athletes competed in a variety of age ranges including a division for adaptive athletes, most of which are injured armed services veterans.
The Casper Mountain Biathlon Club is a non-profit organization providing opportunities for individuals of all ages and abilities to explore and enjoy the sports of Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing. The club’s President Rob Rosser and host of the weekend’s races is no stranger to the sport of Biathlon. Rosser was an Olympian in the 1998 games in Nagano, three-time North American Biathlon Champion, and five-time U.S. National Champion (amongst many other accomplishments).
In addition to his Biathlon prowess, Rosser is a retired Captain and 21-year veteran of the Army National Guard and during that time serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
It’s the nexus between his love for Biathlon and military background that brings a unique angle to the club’s existence. In 2008, Max Cobb, President of US Biathlon asked Rosser if he would be willing to work recruiting injured army veterans for the sport. It did not take much for Rosser to fall in love with coaching Biathlon to injured veterans as an adaptive sport, quitting his job as a Casper realtor and taking on the job full-time in 2010.
The event wrapped up on Sunday with medals awarded to each division’s winners. Many of the athletes went on to compete in the US National Championships in West Yellowstone, Montana. Sadly, for a variety of reasons I (the Alpine Insider) was not able to attend the National Championships to see the progress of the Western Regional winners. Take heart though, the 2021/22 Biathlon season is only eight months away (and that does not include the summer rollerski season)!
BIATHLON EXPLAINED: Biathlon is a Nordic winter sport combining the athleticism of cross-country skiing with the marksmanship of rifle (target) shooting. While races vary in distance, the drill the same: ski – shoot – repeat. All races require at least two stops at the firing range where the competitor uses a .22 rifle to shoot at targets the size of CD/DVD from 50 meters away (about half the length of a football field). Missed a target? Well too bad for you: you’re either skiing penalty loops (extra distance) or having time added to your overall finish time.
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