Biathlon and dog sledding at Chester Winter CarnivalBy Christian Avard
Staff Writer | February 16,2013HERVE PELLETIER PHOTO
Biathlon, a sport that combines cross-country skiing and shooting at targets with a laser-guided rifle will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Pinnacle on Lovers Lane in Chester. The event is organized by the Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center and will take place at this weekend’s winter carnival.CHESTER — There’s more to winter activities than skiing, sledding or ice skating. This weekend, two off-the-beaten-path winter activities — biathlon and dog sledding — will be offered at the Chester Winter Carnival.
According to Bill Salmon, Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center director, the biathlon entails cross-country skiing and shooting a rifle at several stations on a course. Each skier must hit five targets in a given amount of time and move on to the next station on the course.
Salmon said there’s more to the biathlon than meets the eye. Although rifles are used, no rounds are fired and participants use laser-guided rifles.
Moving from station to station is a great cardiovascular workout, he said, and shooting at targets when the heart is beating fast makes it fun and interesting.
“You really have to Zen yourself out, knock your shots out in 20 seconds and be gone. That’s really tough,” Salmon said.
Biathlon is available to all ages but cross-country skiing is not required. Participants will run and sled from station to station and a person will hand participants a rifle to shoot with upon arrival.
While some will try their luck at the biathlon, Kathy Bennett and her husband Alex MacLennan of Braeburn Siberians in Windsor will bring up to 24 Siberian Huskies for the dog sledding event.
Bennett was introduced to dog sledding through her daughter, who wanted to dog sled at an early age. The couple also gave it a try and were hooked.
The couple will be giving rides in two dog-drawn sleds at the carnival. Each sled carries up to two adults, two medium-sized youths, or three small children, Kathy Bennett said.
They will accompany drivers on the sledding rides and they will dog sled on a groomed trail behind Buttonwood Farm. Bennett said their huskies are a working breed but they are friendly and love attention just like other dogs.
“There’s no physical attachment between the musher and the lead dog unlike with horses,” Bennett said.
“The dogs are 40 to 90 feet in front of you, the team of dogs follows the lead dog and the leader is listening to the musher. It comes down to a working relationship between the lead dogs and mushers. It’s based on mutual trust and respect.”
Dog sledding takes place from noon to 3 p.m. and the biathlon begins at 1 p.m. today at the Pinnacle on Lovers Lane in Chester. More of this weekend’s winter carnival activities can be found at www.yourplaceinvermont.com.
For more information on the biathlon and dog sledding events, visit www.graftonponds.com or www.braeburnsiberians.com.
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