ETHAN ALLEN FIRING RANGE, Vermont - The Colorado National Guard Biathlon Team placed sixth in the men’s and women’s team competitions and brought home two sets of individual bronze medals at the 2023 Chief, National Guard Bureau Biathlon Championships, Feb. 17-22, 2023, at Camp Ripley, Minnesota.
The CNGB Championship is a week-long biathlon competition consisting of two individual races: a sprint and pursuit race; two team races—a relay and patrol race. This year’s championship included 79 Guard members from 21 states and civilian competitors from local biathlon clubs.
The Colorado team fielded a strong team at the competition. Experienced biathletes U.S. Army Lt. Col. Chip Hahn, U.S. Northern Command Mobilization Command, Lt. Col. Jason Little Owl, Headquarters Detachment, Joint Force Headquarters-Colorado, Staff Sgt. Lisl Lefevre, 3650th Maintenance Company, and Sgt. William Felts, Company B, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry (Mountain), have raced at Ethan Allen Firing Range during previous CNGB Championships.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lindsey Lopez, Headquarters - Headquarters Detachment, Joint Force Headquarters - Colorado, Sgt. Joshua Drews, Company C, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry (Mountain), Sgt. Jacob Coogan, 3650th Maintenance Company, and Sgt. Sage Hamilton, Company D, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, participated in their first opportunity to “ski the east.”
With unseasonably warm weather, afternoon temperatures reaching nearly 40 degrees, organizers made modifications to the traditional course by limiting the course to a 2-kilometer loop rather than the standard 2.5- and 3.3-kilometer loops. The shorter distances allowed Soldiers to ski fast and intense laps during competition.
Day one began with the sprint race. Hahn placed eight and Little Owl placed 20th in the 6-km master’s men’s sprint race. Felts took 22nd in the open men’s 6-km sprint race, and Lefevere placed third in the 6-km master’s women sprint race through a combination of fast skiing and good shooting.
Novice athletes Lopez, Drews, Coogan and Hamilton raced the 1-km loop in their respective categories with each hitting at least four of 10 targets during the competition. Coogan led the team’s novice cohort, placing third in the men’s novice category.
On day two, Lefevre finished third in the 10km master’s women pursuit race, equaling her performance at last year’s championships. Little Owl placed 20th in the 10-km master’s men pursuit race and was the team’s high shooter hitting 15 of 20 targets. Hahn faired much worse on the range with a 30 percent hit rate, resulting in a 15th place finish, while Felts placed 24th in the open men’s 10-km pursuit race.
The novice athletes did well on the 5-km course as well, with Coogan reaching the third step of the podium in the men’s novice category for the second day in a row.
With the individual races complete, the competition’s focus shifted to the team events, where the final overall team rankings are decided for the Plantenberg Trophy. For the relay race, Colorado fielded a four-Soldier team of Hahn, Lefevere, Little Owl, and Felts.
Drews, Coogan and Hamilton formed a team with a Soldier representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, while Lopez raced on a composite team with Soldiers from Montana and Alaska.
With Vermont, Minnesota, and New Hampshire taking the top spots in the 4 x 6-km relay race, it was left to the western states to fight it out for the remainder of the top-six spots, which bring coveted points towards the overall team title. Oregon placed fourth, Alaska fifth, and Colorado sixth, all finishing within 15 seconds of each other.
In the following day’s patrol race the Colorado team reversed the script on Alaska and Oregon, finishing in fourth place. Lefevere was the team’s patrol leader and issued commands to Coogan, Felts and Hahn on the range. The team shot well and maintained a high pace over the 10-km course. For Coogan it was a day to sink or swim outside of the novice pool. He would set a personal best for ski speed over 10 km.
The efforts of Team Colorado over four days of competition resulted in a sixth-place finish in the Plantenberg Trophy standings.
At the awards ceremony, The Adjutant General of Vermont U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight presented Lefevere and Coogan with their bronze medals for their success in the individual races, continuing the legacy of Colorado Soldiers leading the way at the National Guard’s premier biathlon competition.