My "Cold" Medal...  

ByteChaser2 53M
2834 posts
2/12/2006 11:06 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

My "Cold" Medal...

I'd been introduced to cross-country skiing the year before by my churches youth leaders. A husband and wife team. He, a card carrying American Socialist and recovering hippie, she most probably where my failings in fidelity first sprang (another story...). They lived a few miles through a stretch of woods and blueberry fields on a patch of wilderness in the shadow of Mount Ephraim (more a high, rocky hill than a mountain). I'd spent more than a few weekends at their spread through my high school years.

As it happens, I'd also just been introduced to hunting the previous fall. I'd owned an old, beat up M1 carbine and found it perfect for "close-in" hunting in the dense forests around my home. My youth leader had traded it to me in exchange for some field work over the summer.

Most winter afternoons, once homework and chores were done, and the animals fed, I'd bind up my ancient pair of skis, load up my old carbine and make the 7 mile trek to their house. Along the way, I'd sometimes get sidetracked by one set of tracks or another. Deer, fox, bobcat... Bear a couple of times and a moose just once. I'd follow these tracks for a time until I either sighted the animal or wandered too far from the trails, and only occasionally managed to complete a hunt.

This was all done purely out of recreation mind you, a distraction as it were on these trips. What it did though, was teach me about a sport that I only vaguely knew existed. The biathlon.

For two years (winters) I'd unknowingly been training for an "Olympic" winter sport, much the same way many biathletes train, by simply doing. I'd learned how to ski cross country, getting better and faster with each successive trek to the mountain. I'd even managed some skill and accuracy with the rifle. But it was years later when, after having been dormant and unused, these skills served up a "Cold" medal.

Each year, certain Marine units participate in a NATO exercise in Norway. Under the best circumstances, in the dead of summer, Norway can prove a most forbidding place to conduct military exercises. The difficulties increase exponentially in winter. Knowing this, we were provided extensive cold weather and arctic training the month prior to our actual exercise. Usually at an army base in Wisconsin, or the small Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport California.

It was at one such training evolution in Bridgeport that I and four of my fellows were surreptitiously "volunteered" as ski instructors. I believe the exact phraseology was: "You grew up in Maine, you HAVE to know how to ski...". We were also entered in a biathlon competition that would mark the end of this particular two week ski training evolution.

Of the four in my cadre of ski "instructors", only two of us had actually worn skis before and only I had any experience with the cross country variety. So it fell on me to, in effect, train the trainers... In the weeks prior to the ski training evolution, the four of us would take ever longer ski treks through the area, learning the myriad skills one can really only learn through trial and error. Like how to get back up after performing flawless "five point face plants" with a 40 pound pack and weapon strapped to your back...

Yeah, we spent a lot of time face down in the snow

Following our own "crash" course (pun intended), we set about assisting the real ski instructor cadre with the rest of the units training. It all went very well.

The final day, we four assembled at the start of a ten mile course with our M16's, a day pack and our ski's, waxed and cleaned, ready to compete with a couple dozen other four man teams in this biathlon. As the permanent instructors at Bridgeport were the most proficient, they would begin the course last and we few groups of adjunct trainers would begin just before them. 5 minutes would separate each teams start time... We four were to be last team in this vanguard of teams.

At the two and a half mile mark, we reached the first firing point - a 50 meter range where we were to fire at ten by twelve inch paper targets. We needed only to "hit paper" to score a hit. All but two of my ten rounds hit the center spot (a one inch by one inch silhouette of a torso). My first and fifth rounds went wild - probably due to heavy breathing and excitement... Of my team, we only dropped 4 rounds (never actually hit the paper of the target).

We were 8th of 20 teams (passed eleven teams to this point including all but the permanent instructor team, who were only a few minutes behind us). Really not that much of a feat considering most of these people had never been on skis much less in a biathlon before.

By the seven and a half mile mark, we had been passed up by our permanent trainers and found ourselves in the second place position. Behind by no more than a minute. In all we'd dropped five more rounds in the firing phases of the race, for a total of nine.

We crossed the finish line a little under two minutes behind the "pro's", exhausted and soaked in sweat, panting and slobbering like rabid dogs. The next team was three minutes behind us... It took an hour to finally cheer the last team on to completion.

Times were tallied, marksmanship scores added and to our very great surprise, we were first. Our shooting scores having been significantly better overall... The pro's had dropped nearly half of their rounds off the paper...

In a ceremony reminiscent of the Olympics, we were presented with a clear plastic "medal" that resembled a small ice sculpture, etched with four biathletes and the number 1. They called it the "Cold" Medal.

rm_sj365 55F
2414 posts
2/12/2006 5:48 pm

face down in the snow?

so it would follow that meant you were ass up in the snow?

sorry...wheres the down side to this again...?

ByteChaser2 53M

2/13/2006 6:00 am

sj - hmm... Lets see... the downside *COULD* be that while the ass was in the frigid air, the "pointy stick" was on ice - as it were - and playing a protracted game of hide and "I don't give 2 shits if you haven't taken a leak in a week, I AINT pokin my head out in THAT!"

southrnpeach333 50F

2/13/2006 9:13 am

So that is how you got those great ass muscles.

ByteChaser2 53M

2/13/2006 12:01 pm

LOL peach... your gonna make me say it huh? Genetically speaking... That's my dad's ass. And while I expect he wasn't referring to it specifically (oh lord I hope not...) Much of who I am, according to him, is his legacy to the world.

I am definitely my fathers son

So, if you decide to travel northward, into the wilds of New England... Keep a watchful eye for this ass and send his son's warmest "How ya doin!"

Become a member to create a blog