Members of the Virgin Islands National Guard (VING) competed in this year’s Central and Eastern Region Biathlon competition at Camp Ripley, Little Falls, Minn., on Jan. 16-17.
Lt. Col. Ruth Cresenzo, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mervin Mills, Capt. Jeremy Garfoot, Capt. Elvor Narciss and Sgt. Priscilla Desormeaux are athletes and competitors within the community and were not afraid to brave extreme cold weather conditions to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“You learn a lot of different skills; it’s all about shoot, move and communicate,” said Lt. Col. Cresenzo, special legal advisor for VING, who has competed in the Biathlon before.
An impressive group of individuals, some who have never skied before, hopes to gain training and experience to share with future athletes.
Sgt. Priscilla Desormeaux, a member of the 23rd Weapons of Mass Destruction, Civil Support Team, was eager to experience this year’s event. “I have never skied before, but I have always been interested in snow sports,” said Desormeaux.
“I expect to learn how to ski comfortable enough to where I am not scared and learn how to control my breathing when it’s time to shoot,” she said.
The Biathlon is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship. The National Guard Biathlon program and the Minnesota National Guard hosted this year’s competition.
Before the competition, the team got one-on-one training with a coach on how to ski and shoot.
Capt. Elvor Narciss, a logistics officer for the joint force headquarters and a cyclist who competes within the community, was unable to make the races the year before but decided to attend this year.
“The experience was challenging, cold and fun,” said Narciss. The captain, who is also a first-time skier, adds that if anyone is interested in competing, “to be prepared to fall and get back up.”
Along with a coach from the Alaska National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mervin Mills, a former taekwondo instructor for VING, served as the coach for the team. Mills hopes to increase the membership of the team and to be able to compete in future competitions.
“The goal is to go and get the experience and come back and improve from what you’ve learned,” said Mills. “It is not easy, but it is worth the try.”
The team hopes to get equipment and uniforms for future races.