Today we would like to celebrate a win here at Fishe; our accountant, Heather Percy and her womens team of Alaska National Guardsmen tookfirst place at the Annual Chief of the National Guard Biathlon Championship at Camp Ripley, Minnesota last month. Heather was kind enough to take some time out of her busy day to write a few words about her big win…
“Biathlon is challenging and stimulating in so many ways. It takes a collaboration of a whole host of skills; skiing, shooting, strategy, pacing myself, reading snow conditions, waxing skis, keeping the rifle clean, target practice, utilizing appropriate gear/layering systems, fueling, and hydrating. I draw on my experiences training with the Army, winter snowsports, snowboard slalom racing, being a former ski technician, and working as a snowmaker for a ski resort.
Biathlon is a sport that is frustrating and fun at the same time. It is a race that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Contestants ski a designated distance (usually around 2 to 3 kilometers), stop, and shoot at five targets. For every target they miss, a 150m penalty lap is added. Then racers repeat this whole cycle over again, culminating in a race that usually comes out to around 10km 45 minutes or so. Our coach did a succinct job of summarizing the sport by saying ski racing is like checkers but biathlon is like chess. He also called it a "precision sport".
Some races are great and everything seems like it's on your side, the right wax, great snow, no wind, the targets go down easily. Other races it's a struggle to even have the mental fortitude to get to the starting line when it's cold, windy, icy. I spend a lot of time thinking about it all on the course and in the penalty loop!
I picked up this sport later in life, which keeps you young. I'm always eager to learn new things. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to represent Alaska and compete in biathlon against national guard teams from other states, meet people from all over the country and now the world, since the National Guard is inviting our partner counties to participate. Minnesota brought a team from Croatia over! Alaska's partner country is Mongolia, so that should be fun. Mongolians are strong and have a good work ethic and team ethic. I can't wait to introduce them to biathlon as well as help grow our womens team since a few of us are close to retirement. It's stuff like this that has kept me going in the national guard for almost 20 years and I'm not done yet!”