by Randy H. Milgrom
Audio by Bob Merion
Photography by Bob Garypie and
When I first heard of the biathlon
– a sport involving both guns and skiing – I thought of drinking
and driving. A city boy myself, I know that guns don’t mix
But once I arrived on the scene, I was happy to see that
at least they don't do both things at once. And though they
don't actually rest from skiing before they start shooting,
they do at least stop before they aim. Yet as with most things
viewed upon closer inspection – and without smugness – there
is much to be enjoyed about this intriguing test of two distinctively
different types of skill.
A man on a tractor drags a specialized grooving implement
behind him all around the course, to groom the trail just
prior to the start. And I had thought the grooved tracks were
created by the skiers themselves, through practice and repetition!
There is so much I don’t know.
Biathlon competitors are required to ski twice around the
track. During the first lap, they stop at the designated shooting
area and fire five shots at a target from a prone position.
On the second lap, they do the same, except that this time
they aim and shoot while standing up. Due to a stream of fresh
snow that has blanketed the course overnight – and that begins
again just prior to the race – the track is slower and more
difficult to navigate than it was when some of these participants
raced here on Wednesday, and I notice that competitors are
fervently applying massive doses of wax to the bottoms of
their skis prior to the start.
in the Gallery
Each participant gets five attempts to shoot at five small
round target holes. For the prone attempt, shooters calmly
unclip their bindings and step out their skis, take a deep
breath, and begin to aim. A red-carpeted area is provided
for their comfort. In the standing mode, most just turn themselves
sideways and rotate their upper bodies into position in the
direction of the targets.
A rousing cheer goes up when a skier enters the shooting
area, and then an eerie calm settles in as the marksman begins
to take aim. Some of these deadeyes hit 5 out of 5 – and that’s
I was also so very pleased to return to the beautiful scene
of Wednesday’s one-hour cross-country site, and to visit with
all of my new old friends from many lands who are such impressive
Nordic skiers. And I made a new friend – Emilio Garrido Saez,
the one-man team from Spain, who came smiling over to me to
introduce himself and to thank me for the good work we do
at TransWeb – and we all appreciate those kind words very
much. I might also thank him for speaking to me in an English
he has been fine-tuning in talks with his roommate this week
– Soren Hermansen, who is also these Games’ lone representative
from Denmark. (By the way – Soren was perhaps the fastest
man on skis today, but his shooting was, well... Hey, Emilio,
get your partner to work on his aim when he gets a chance!)
Emilio was extremely proud to tell me that this is the first
time Spain has been represented in the Winter World Transplant
Games. He also guaranteed me that his friends and family at
home in Spain will be viewing this site, so we wish to tell
them that Emilio is well indeed – feeling very strong and
healthy four years after his third transplant. And he is very
happy. Did I mention he is happy? He is very happy to be here
– just happy to be well, and feeling good. We need more men
like him on this earth.
This was the last competition of this week’s 4th Annual Winter
World Transplant Games. I will miss the fun.
Thank you all for being so friendly and patient with me and
for showing me such a good time.