Local junior Nordic skier and biathlete Aidan Sands recently brought home a pocketful of medals from a junior international biathlon competition at the Liatoppen Ski Centre, northwest of Oslo in central Norway.
Sands, a 15-year-old freshman at Liberty Bell High School, won gold in the team 4.5K x 3 skier relay event, bronze in the individual 5.5K sprint, and placed 6th in the mass start event in the 87-skier finale.
Over 900 athletes participated in the weekend event, regarded as the largest junior biathlon race in the world. Nineteen junior skiers were invited from by the U.S. Biathlon Association.
In the mixed relay event, Sands teamed up with Alaskans Grayson Melocik and Miya Kam-Magruder to place 1st after a slow start. Clean shooting and some good skiing brought the U.S. team all the way from 9th place to the 1st-place finish. Sands hit 8 of 10 targets in the sprint, and was the bronze medalist behind two Norwegian skiers.
Sands’ lowest finish of the weekend was his 6th place in the longer final race, which, still, would have been the highest placing ever for an American in recent memory. According to father and coach Colin Sands, that 6th-place finish beat the previous best by an American junior at 13th place in any of the races at the Liatoppen.
It was after that race when Sands was greeted in the finish area by Tarjei Boe of Norwegian Olympic and World Cup fame. Sands was impressed with meeting Boe, who has earned six Olympic medals, three of them Gold, and multiple World Championships. “He came up to me after the race because, he said, he heard I had made the podium,” said Sands. “He introduced himself, offered congratulations and asked how the trip (to Norway) was. I already knew who he was, so it was pretty cool to see him coming toward me.”
For Sands, meeting an Olympic and World Cup medalist is becoming old hat. This was the second trip to Norway for the Mazama teen. He was with seven members of the Methow Youth Nordic program that went to Scandinavia in early December 2022 to ski and watch the U.S. Nordic Cross Country team in a World Cup event. Their favorite, Novie McCabe, did not ski that event after falling a bit under the weather that week, but they did hook up with U.S. Gold Medalist Jesse Diggins and the rest of the team for fist bumps and selfies.
With biathlon and skiing finally done for the year, Sands has his attention turned to Mountain Lion soccer for the spring, to relax and compete. After the season wraps up shortly, it’s back onto the slats for summer roller ski training in preparation for next winter’s Nordic calendar.