Aidan Sands of Mazama traveled to Soldier Hollow Nordic center in Midway, Utah, at the end of 2021 to compete in the U.S. Biathlon Youth/Junior World Cup Trials.
Sands, 13, competed over several days in late December, along with more than 70 other athletes in the 16- to 19-year-old age group. Sands was one of two younger biathletes invited to compete against the older field to gain experience, while not eligible for qualification until age 16.
The event consisted of an official training day followed by a 10K Sprint race in which Sands placed 14th overall in the Youth Category. Next, in the 10K Modified Pursuit Race, Sands placed 16th in the Youth category with splits in the top six after the first two passes on the course that was host to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Sands completed the race week, and the year, on Dec. 31with a 16th-place finish in the Sprint and wrapping up the trials in 16th in the point standings.
“It was a great opportunity for Aidan provided by U.S. Biathlon. He has worked hard since the snow melted last April preparing for this race,” said Colin Sands, Aidan’s coach and father. “He was asked to race 27.5 Kkilometers over a four-day period while carrying an 8-pound gun on his back. During the Nordic racing season, a U14 athlete will typically hit 5K total on a race weekend so this was certainly an endurance test.”
“He had process goals in place that he hit, he got a good taste of where his ski speed and endurance needs to be, and he has a clear understanding of where he needs to be in three years when he is eligible, I am certain he will be back next year with more fire in his eyes,” Colin Sands added.
Aidan Sands will wrap up the 2022 biathlon season in Lake Placid, New York, in March for the U.S. Biathlon National Championships, joined by younger sister Maren (age 11) who will make her first appearance in the National Championships in the U15 category.
Dickinson vies for Olympics
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Winthrop native and Liberty Bell High School graduate Kelsey Dickinson recently competed for the U.S. National Team in Arber, Germany, vying for one of the last two spots on the U.S. Olympic team slated to head to Beijing in February.
Dickinson headed to Europe before the holidays after coming off back-to-back strong performances at the U.S. Olympic team trials in Craftsbury, Vermont, among a handful of her current national team members.
Dickinson performed well in Arber with solid shooting scores both days but did not make the final cut for the women’s four-member team.