Destination Recreation: Biathlon - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Destination Recreation: Biathlon

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Trying the biathlon feels like learning two different sports. First, you need to lace up and cross-country ski. The hardest part may be getting the skis on.

Working without poles to start, we had to learn how to move our legs, swing our arms, and glide forward. It was a bit awkward at first.

Reporter: "I don't know how people do this at at fast pace."

Then we added in the poles and took off to the trails to practice. The instructor told us to try to get our hips up over our skis.

Learning how to pick up speed while going uphill by taking quick steps and control our skis on the downhill. They're not downhill skis, so they don't have any sidecut. We have to use the snowplow.

I'm a bit wobbly, but nearing the end of our lesson, we were all moving smoother. Then, it's time to take off the skis and shoot. Our goal is to knock the targets 50 meters away from black to white.

"So when you're shooting you want to take natural breathing as best you can," says shooting instructor Peter Hunkins. "Hold your breath, and in about three to five seconds you want to get the shot off."

He shows us a demo, a perfect five of five. And then it was our turn. I made the first one, but after a miss on the second, I thought I'd probably need to get in shape for some penalty loops.

Fortunately, the next eight went better, leaving me nine for ten.

Athletes have to be at least 90 percent accurate to be competitive, but I'm under no illusions of Olympic grandeur. True biathletes have to do this after a dead sprint on skis, aiming at a target the size of a silver dollar.

"It's kind-of a tough combination because you're skiing hard, you have a high pulse rate and you're winded, you're trying to be calm to shoot. You have to be very steady to have a high rate of success," Hunkins says.

All of us left with a greater appreciation for the biathletes competing now in Sochi.

Reporter: "Can you imagine trying to ski a lot and then shoot right away?"

"Oh no, I'd fall," says Rebecca Mcgrouty from Troy. "I would fall."

"I can't imagine trying to shoot with your heart rate up and elevated -- to be able to shoot and hit a target that small -- that would be really difficult," says Matt Mokey of Troy.

A difficult sport -- but we had fun giving it a shot.

If you'd like more information about the Be A Biathlete program, visit:  http://www.whiteface.com/activities/be-biathlete

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