Seven minutes, 28 seconds
– That is what it takes to roller ski 2.5 kilometers
uphill from Orcutt Road to the Fremont
Longer for some of us; however, that was
the time it took for 16-year-old biathlon competitor
Syver Norstegard of Norway on July 4.
Closely behind him was 15-year-old Henrik
Quintilio from Barrhead, Alberta, Canada.
Only minutes behind was 13-year-old Antija
Quintilio, also from Barrhead, and former
Olympic competitors Kevin and Ntala
If the name “Quintilio” sounds familiar it
could be because Henrik’s and Antiija’s parents
both competed in past Winter Olympics
in biathlon events.
Mother Ntala Skinner Quintilio grew up
in Pinedale and later moved to Sun Valley,
Idaho. She competed in all three women’s
biathlon events for the United States during
the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
On the same American Olympic team as
Picabo Street and known as Ntala Skinner at
the time, her name might be less known due
to the obscurity for the sport in the United
In 1993, Skinner was the only junior team
member to make the U.S. squad for the 1993
World Cup. She attended the 1994 Winter
Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, but did
Henrik and Antija’s father Kevin Quintilio
is also a former biathlete who also competed
in the 1998 Winter Olympics – on the Canadian
“We competed all the time from high
school on and were friends,” Ntala said. It
wasn’t until after the Nagano Olympics that
they married. Fast-forward 20 years and they
are training the next generation.
Together their ranch hosts the Crazy Mare
Ranch Biathlon Club in Alberta, which also
has a small eight-point biathlon rifle range.
“I’m the Crazy Mare,” Ntala said.
For the past two weeks, the family has visited
Ntala’s parents Ole and Karen Skinner in
Pinedale. Not to skip training, the family used
high-altitude trails in and around Pinedale to
stay fit. Joining them is Syver, a foreign exchange
student from Norway.
While others were barbecuing and watching
fireworks on July 4, Quintilios and Syver
were skiing intervals at 8,000 feet. That
means roller skiing at the fastest pace an athlete
can set for the 2.5 kilometers – that’s just
over 1.55 miles.
For the two boys Henrik and Syver, the
drill was repeated. Antija only did it once because
of her age.
“It’s a tremendous mental challenge to
push through at your highest capacity,” Ntala
said of the interval training. “They learn how
to push those limits and continue when the
legs burn out.”
The training finished, they returned home
at a much slower pace.
“Only 20 percent of training is done at that
intense level,” Ntala said.
While here and showing the sights to their
foreign exchange student, they worked out by
hiking trails or riding bikes.
On this day, friend Shelly Pence – a former
ski pal in high school – came down from
Jackson to help time and ferry athletes. “Ntala
took skiing a little more seriously than I did,”
Pence said of her former co-competitor.
Grandparents Ole and Karen also cheered
them on the upward slope.
Kevin and Ntala still ski, but do more
coaching. “We used to keep up with them,”
she said, referring to her children. “Now they
are way ahead of us.”
“We train for 10 months of the year. The
summer is used for dry-land training,” Ntala
said. The time in Pinedale helps them adjust
to high altitude. “It’s good to train at different
altitudes so you know how your body reacts.”
On a trip in Norway, they were advised by
a wax tech of a family whose son was also
training – Syver.
“When training with your parents it is always
good to train with other people,” Ntala
said. So Syver headed to Canada for three
weeks with a detour in Wyoming and Yellowstone
National Park. On July 14, he returns
to Norway with Henrik in tow to train
“I wanted him to see other cultures and
what it is like,” Ntala said. “It’s Syver’s first
time in North America.”
“There is nothing this high in Norway,”
Syver said. That said, he referred to Pinedale
as “flat” compared to the steep mountain valley
where he lives. Galdhopiggen is the tallest
mountain in Norway at 2,469 meters or 8,100
feet above sea level.
Norwegians are more competitive in
Norway and residents understand the sport
better than in North America, Syver said. Henrik
is rated 25th to 28th in his age group in the
United States. Syver is 125th in his country.
“We don’t see the same competitiveness
here,” Ntala said.
Interested by the geysers in Yellowstone,
Syver was also excited to find “brown cheese”
– a carmelized goat cheese from Norway –
sold at the local grocery store.
Another find he will take home with him is
peanut butter. “We don’t have peanut butter
in Norway,” Syver said.
As for his goal in Norway, Henrik said he
plans to “beat the Norwegian.” Also, to try
Biathlon is a unique and challenging
sport, combining cardiovascular exertion
from top-level cross-country skiing with the
small-muscle finesse and mental focus of rifle
Originating with tracking game and hunting
it, more recent credit came in the early
days of World War II, when the Russian
Army invaded Finland in the infamous “Winter
On paper, the Soviets should have won an
overwhelming victory, rushing 20 heavily armored
divisions across the border. But within
a few days, most of their vehicles had frozen
in the arctic conditions. Underdressed foot
soldiers fell to a Finnish guerrilla force that,
while lightly armed, moved rapidly through
the forest on skis. More than a million Soviet
soldiers died against Finnish losses of 25,000.
The first biathlons were military competitions
organized in the cold-war atmosphere of
the early 1950s. The sport made its Olympic
debut at the Squaw Valley games in 1960.