LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Theo Castonguay, 17, of Jackson took first place in the pursuit race at the U.S. Biathlon Nationals in the Youth Men’s division last weekend.
Theo graduated during his junior year in 2021 from Kennett High School.
He began competing in Biathlon and Nordic skiing at age 11 and had a very successful high school Nordic ski career.
He has been spending a gap year training at Soldier Hollow Nordic and Biathlon Center in Utah under coach Zachary Hall.
This fall, he will join his older sister, Grace Castonguay, a 2020 Kennett High graduate, as a Division 1, EISA Purple Knights Nordic skier for Saint Michaels College in Colchester, Vt.
Grace also earned a medal at USBA Nationals, where her relay team took second place in the IBU Women’s Super Sprint. Grace led the Knights women this season, setting several records for the college.
In addition to skiing for the Knights, the 20-year-old SMC sophomore is also a member of Ethan Allen Biathlon and Soldier Hollow Biathlon teams.
The U.S. Biathlon Nationals were held in Lake Placid, N.Y., at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Ski Center on March 25-27. Theo Castonguay was joined by Grace, whose relay team took second in the IBU Women’s Super Sprint on Sunday.
A COVID infection thwarted both Castonguays in December 2021 and early January when the Biathlon World Trials were held in Utah; while its aftermath slowed their nordic and biathlon seasons a bit, Theo was delighted to end his season on a high note with this first place finish; and his sister scored NCAA points during her debut college season.
Theo took first place in the pursuit race and fourth place in the sprint in the highly competitive Youth Men’s division. Grace took fourth place in the sprint and 6th place in the pursuit race for the highly competitive Junior women’s division. Full results are on the Bullitt Timing website.
Biathlon combines Nordic (skate) skiing with marksmanship.
Competitors use a special rifle weighing 8 pounds, and ski with it on their backs while they race. The sport involves a high level of athleticism, strategy, strength, skill and stamina.
When athletes enter the range they must shoot at five targets before re-entering the ski course. In a sprint race they shoot one bout prone (laying down) and one bout standing; in a pursuit they shoot two bouts in each position. For each of the five targets in each round they miss, they must ski a 150-meter penalty lap, which adds to their overall ski distance for each race as well as to their finish time.
Biathletes train for years to master the sport and the unique technique and nuances necessary to succeed.