February 2011
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The 2011 Empire State Games Biathlon Race come to a close with the Polar Bear Biathlon Racers bringing home 3 Silver Medals and 1 Bronze!

Mother nature wanted to be sure that we remembered the 2011 ESGs. Today the temperatures were in the teens with a pretty strong, swirling wind and some driving snow for the start of the race. Shooting in the race today was good for some and not so good for others. Much of it depended on when you were in the range and how tired you were from yesterday’s race. Some traditionally strong shooters had under 50% shooting today. Others shot well.
Today’s race was an Individual Relay, which means that everyone skis for themselves, but they get a total of 8 shots on each lap to hit five targets. Normally there are very few people that have to ski penalty laps in a race like this. Today with cold temperatures, driving winds and snow, that all changed. For the Polar Bear Biathlon racers, Maddie Phaneuf and Damon Kull the skiing was slow and the shooting was tough. At the end of the race Maddie took home the Silver Medal for her competition class and Damon took home the Bronze. Maddie has had better days shooting, 3 for 10, but she was tough on the snow skiing. Damon had his best day ever hitting 10 for 10, using three extra shots. Today’s race was a 6 km. course for everyone, but with soft conditions it was again like skiing in oatmeal. Still all of the racers have to be commended for their drive to compete in two tough days of shooting and skiing.
Today’s race was the last race of the season for Maddie Phaneuf, she will be participating at the Junior Olympics in Minnesota during the New York Championships and Damon may decide to race, but with spring coming and high school sports starting that next week, he may decide to pass and get into the golf season early. No matter what happens the team has had a short, but great year. All of their races have taken place over a one month period. When ever I attend a race other coaches and skiers all seem to ask if any of the Polar Bear Biathlon team is coming. At this point we are young and growing, but will be a force in a few years. Here is to another great season on shooting and skiing. I have come to believe that a season is judged not by how many targets that have been knocked down, but by the growth of the individual skiers. We have shown tremendous growth this year! I look forward to next season for even better results!

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