Biathlon athlete participates in Max Soviak National Rimfire Sporter Match

Mike Desch, from Englewood, Ohio, wore his biathlon gear during the Rimfire Sporter match on Saturday, July 8, 2023, and shared his journey to becoming a biathlon official at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Games.

Mike is an avid shooter and has been involved in shooting sports for as long as he can remember: “I shot .22 in indoor leagues in 7he degree… it was in my blood.” His love of marksmanship took a new form when she participated in his first biathlon in Dayton, Ohio, which consisted of a cross-country run and rifle shooting. Since then, she has participated in many biathlons, starting with running and gradually moving further into cross-country skiing.

Mike enjoys the athleticism and challenges that are inherent in biathlon, “The fact that [biathletes] They can enter the shooting range, drop their poles, remove the rifle from their back, turn prone, fire 5 shots, get back up, grab their poles and ski, in less than 30 seconds when their heart rate is elevated. It’s really amazing”.

Mike’s jacket included a Lake Placid and Canada World Cup patch.

Mike became interested in biathlon officiating while attending the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He wanted to become an official for the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. To find out how to accomplish this, he contacted the USBA office and expressed interest in becoming an officer. They recommended that he participate in as many events as he could and obtain the necessary certifications. One of the events he attended in preparation was a double event in Lake Placid and Canada, which he was in the jacket he chose to wear to the Rimfire Sporter match.

Mike followed their recommendations and when 2002 rolled around, he was on the roster for the Olympics. Mike was elated to have made his dream come true, saying, “It was an experience of a lifetime.” As an officer, Mike could have many tasks, including setting up the range, checking targets, checking rifles, and scoring.

There are so many opportunities in the sport of shooting that Mike continues to explore and appreciate different areas of the sport. For anyone looking to do something like this, Mike’s advice is: “Find a passion and get involved.”

Find more details about the CMP Rimfire Sporter Matches, visit: Photos from the Max Soviak National Rimfire Sporter Match can be viewed and downloaded at

For more information on biathlons, visit

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