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Ski Fast, Shoot Straight
Casey Smith named Junior Biathlete of the Year

The Methow Valley's Casey Smith has shot and skied his way to being named Junior Biathlete of the year for the 2011 US Biathlon Team. A sophomore at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, the Winthrop native is a member of the US Junior National Biathlon Team.

Biathlon combines cross-country skiing with rifle marksmanship. Biathletes ski as fast as they can, then must quickly calm down to hit a target the size of a half-dollar 50 meters away from a prone position and one the size of a coffee cup saucer from a standing position. For every missed target, competitors are penalized, such as having to ski an extra 150 meters (making them lose valuable time).

To earn the recent honor, Casey traveled  - a lot - to international competitions. He spent most of January and February in Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic racing and gaining experience in a number of events. He led the US men’s team at the Junior World Championship in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic where he had his best result in the 12.5km Individual Race, placing 30th, shooting 0-2-0-2.  

He finished up his season with three National Championship titles at the US Biathlon Championships at Mt. Itasca, Minnesota.

Casey has been training in Bozeman and joined the US Junior National Team for summer and fall training camps in Colorado and Utah. He will be looking to top his previous year’s performances as he moves into the 19-20 age category at the Junior World Championships in Kontiolahti, Finland in late February, 2012.

Casey is studying snow science at Montana State, with classes including physics, geography, chemistry, geology, calculus, engineering and mechanics. Local veterinarian Betsy Smith, Casey’s mother, said he is next expected back in the valley at Christmas time.

Casey comes from a Methow skiing family on his mother’s side. His maternal grandparents, Doug and Grace Devin, were both ski instructors. His mother, Betsy Smith and his uncle, Steve Devin, were both on the U.S. Ski Team for alpine skiing. Casey’s father, Skip Smith, comes from a ranching family and manages the family's local business, BCS Livestock.

Casey first learned to shoot in the valley’s 4-H shooting sports program, and jumped right into valley’s recently formed biathlon program, which is coached by Betsy Smith.

The Methow Valley Biathlon Team is gaining membership, according to Smith.  Eleven students joined this year, bringing the total to about 30. The team is part of the web of skiing organizations in the valley, including The Methow Valley Nordic Team and the Methow Valley Nordic Ski Education Foundation.


Methow Valley biathlete Casey Smith fires from the prone position in a recent competition.

Casey looking for speed on a downhill section.

Targets are a bit larger when shooting from the standing position.