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SEELEY, Wis. - It's not the typical activity you expect to see on the
famous 'OO' trails in northwestern Wisconsin.
"It's a brand new event for us. We're just trying to
get people to come out and use the trail and the facilities more than just in
the winter," said Ned Zuelsdorff, executive director of the American Birkebeiner
The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation hosted its first
ever paintball biathlon, a 1.5K for 8–12 year olds and a 5K for those 13 and
Zuelsdorff said, "Competitors do three laps and they
come in between each lap into our shooting range and they'll shoot paintball
guns at our targets and they'll get time bonuses for any hits that they have."
Cross-country ski biathlon is a popular winter and Olympic
sport using a .22 caliber rifle at a distance of 160 feet.
The distance is considerably
less for this event, at 30 feet.
Despite the shorter distance, competitors say
hitting the target was no easy task.
"I hadn't shot a paintball gun before today so I kind
of went with the strategy run as hard as I could. I think I ended up with three
shots out of ten but I ran pretty quickly so hopefully that will work,"
said Bjorn Hanson, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
Emily Nothacker, of Duluth said, "A lot of times I even
missed the board so I had to run a lot faster than I probably would have had to
but it was fun.They made it really easy. They had you come and practice ahead
of time and take a couple of practice shots so it was good. It was organized
The Birkie Trail is open 365 days a year, so holding additional
events like this, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation hopes to get more
people interested in skiing and maybe help bring a shooting range to the area.
“We have to first start interest in biathlon before we can
go ahead with something like that. I think this is the first step in developing
that interest and that's one of our goals and I think it's going to work,"
The paintball biathlon run was followed by a 10K mountain
Due to the great first year turn out, organizers say you can expect
to see this event become a part of the yearly American Birkebeiner lineup.