Gilford, NHFebruary 14, 2022Gunstock Nordic Association – After a February thaw, bluebird skies and cold temperatures welcomed 124 skiers of all ages for one of GNA’s most loved events of the year, the Valentine’s Paintball Biathlon.


Grades 3-4 shootBiathletes ranged from Bill Koch League junior skiers (our youngest skier was just 2-and-a-half!) to seasoned master skiers (oldest at age 72). Instead of the 22mm target rifles used in official biathlon, skiers use Tippmann paintball guns on a modified shooting range. Competitors 14 and older skied an individual-start time trial, racing 3 laps on a challenging 2.3km circuit. Younger skiers raced on shorter courses in a series of mass start races. Every skier got two shoots (trips to the shooting range) for a chance to improve their ski times, earning a 10-second time deduction for every target hit.

Gunstock Mountain Resort’s grooming team worked their magic on the semi-frozen tracks and produced an excellent fast corduroy surface. This led to some fast and exciting skiing, especially for the U16-, U18-, senior-, and master events which were raced on the original biathlon racecourse that features three passes of the challenging Crossbow trail. The trail starts with a 100-foot climb with an average gradient of 11% then descends downward into a sharp, right hairpin corner that took skiers to speeds of over 30 miles per hour. It’s a course that requires a full Nordic skillset, from climbing to fast transitional cornering.

In the Women's race, Aubrey Nelson skied fast and hit 6 targets earning her the top placing. The Men’s race was won by 2019 winner Sam Evans-Brown of Concord Nordic.

Sam E B tights!Masters winner Sam Evans-Brown leaves the stadium sporting some equally fast looking tights.

The U18 Girls race was won by Elizabeth Clarner of Hopkinton High School. In the Boys U18 race, William Riley of GNA skied fast and outshot his competition (hitting 4 targets) to take top honors. In the U20 race, Mitch Townsend, who continues to get faster with each edition of Paintball Biathlon, and smoked all skiers with a blistering time of 17:04, earning him both the U20 and overall titles!

GNA Wacky Costumes Carter Forest (#45) and Aiden Bondaz (#19) kept the GNA tradition of wearing wacky costumes to the event.

The U16 Girls event was dominated by the Holderness Nordic Club who took all three podium spots with Ella Ronci taking the top spot. In the Boys U16 race, Tyler Watt of GNA hit 5 targets and earned top honors.

Adah Chapman Adah Chapman of Holderness Nordic Club leaves the starting gate. Adah finished second in the U16 race.

Tyler Watt Tyler Watt on his way to hitting 5 targets in the U16 race.

In the afternoon’s Bill Koch races, Lila Sydorwicz of GNA won the Girls Grade 1–2 race and Hewett Pollard Messenger of Concord BKL won the Boys. Grades 3–4 were won by Olive Hanissian and Stewart Bick, both from Ford Sayre Ski Club. Grades 5–6 were won by Sylvie Elliot of Holderness Middle School and Oran Conway of Holderness Nordic.

The Boys and Girls Grade 7–8 races were a family affair with Caitlin and Timothy Craddock of GNA taking the top podium spots.

Caitlin Craddock Caitlin Craddock enters the shooting range after her first lap.

The day’s top target shooter award goes to Sylvie Elliot of Holderness Middle School, who hit an amazing 8 out of 10 targets!

The day’s youngest skiers were Elise and Owen Wyka (age 2!) who are Coach Nina’s grandchildren and are already striding like Olympians!

lollipoppers Lollippors head out for their race, boys and girls ages 2–5. Each finisher received an old-fashioned candy store lollipop!

Special thanks goes out to Holderness Ski Club who brought a team of 20 skiers and Agamenticus Ski Club who brought 15 skiers to the event! We would also like to thank all volunteers, and our race sponsors: Gunstock Mountain Resort, Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc, and Rock House Barbecue.

Lindt Prizes Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc. provided an impressive spread of chocolate prizes for each category podium.

GNA would like to thank all race participants! Results and photos are now posted below.

Race Results (all categories) »
View More Race Photography by Sarah Townsend »



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