CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. – The Colorado National Guard Biathlon Team took third place in the men’s team competition and brought home an individual bronze medal at the 2022 Chief, National Guard Bureau Biathlon Championships, Feb. 12-17, 2022, at Camp Ripley.
The CNGB Championships is a week-long biathlon competition consisting of two individual races—a sprint and pursuit race—and two team races—a relay and patrol race. Soldiers on skis race over a challenging course and, at regular intervals, shoot at targets on a 50-meter range using .22 caliber rifles. The skier or team with the fastest time over the course wins the race.
This year’s championship included 93 National Guard members from 22 states as well as a contingent from Croatia, the Minnesota National Guard’s State Partnership Program partner.
The Colorado team was a mix of three returning athletes and three novice athletes.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Chip Hahn, Capt. Bailey Bullock, and Staff Sgt. Lisl Lefevre have participated in the CNGB Championships over the past several years while Staff Sgt. Lindsey Lopez, Sgt. Jacob Coogan, and Spc. Bryce Peterson, experienced their first opportunity to compete with other guardsmen from across the country.
As with any outdoor activity, the weather had a part to play in challenging the athletes. Three of the four planned races had delayed start to allow temperatures to reach above -4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the minimum temperature approved for competition. Despite the cold temperatures, the snow was fast, and the racing was very competitive.
The competition started well for the Colorado team with Hahn and Bullock placing 10th and 15th respectively in the 10K master’s men sprint race. Lefevere placed 4th in the 7.5K master’s women sprint race, missing the podium by a mere 16 seconds.
The next day, however, Lefevre would not be denied placing 3rd in the 10K master’s women pursuit race. Hahn and Bullock improved on their placings as well with seventh- and ninth-place showings in the 12.5K master’s men pursuit race.
For the novice athletes, the racing was an opportunity to learn the sport by doing. Lopez and Peterson faced cold temperatures, tough climbs, tricky descents, and windy conditions on the range but showed great fortitude and completed each of their races with determination.
After the individual races, the team competition became the focus of the event, determining overall team rankings.
For the relay and patrol races, Colorado fielded a four-Soldier team consisting of Hahn, Bullock, Lefevere and Peterson, while Lopez raced with a composite team from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Coogan raced with a composite team from Nevada.
The team races were where the Colorado team had its best success at the championships, with top three finishes in both the relay and pursuit races, finishing behind perennial biathlon powerhouses Minnesota and North Dakota. The high placings garnered enough points to earn Colorado third place overall in the men’s team competition, its highest placing at the CNGB Championships.
At the awards ceremony, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Marc H. Sasseville, Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau, and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Tony L. Whitehead, NGB Senior Enlisted Advisor, presented Lefevere with her bronze medal and the Colorado Team with the third-place trophy.
The team’s achievement builds on last year's success, when U.S Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Niall MacGregor placed in the top 15 of both individual events and was selected as a member of the All-Guard team, representing the Colorado National Guard as one of the top National Guard biathletes in the nation.