The captaincy of Harvard's Nordic ski team is not the most gloried position in Harvard sports, but for Jon Chaffee '66 it was a chute to two years of skiing around the world, in an enviable version of military service.
The New Hampshire native, who also ran cross-country for Harvard, was transferred last month from basic training at Fort Bragg to the U.S. Modern Biathlon Unit.
Private Chaffee's first assignment will take him to Camp Richardson, Alaska, where the biathlon unit trains year-round. The members of the unit compete in many European ski meets, and selected members will represent the U.S. in next year's Winter Olympics at Grenoble, France.
Chaffee placed 10th in a field of 60 in the cross-country event in last winter's NCAA championships. He scored second-place finishes in the three big Eastern ski carnivals.
The biathlon is a twelve-and-a-half-mile ski race in which the competitors carry rifles and must stop four times to shoot at 10-inch targets 150 meters away. A skier is penalized two minutes for each time he misses one of the twenty targets.
Chaffee finished ninth in his first modern biathlon competition last month at Marquette, Mich. He used a rifle which he had never fired before, and missed several targets. He turned in a good time, but was penalized heavily for his shooting.
In addition to training for the biathlon, Chaffee will be getting in shape for the National Nordic "A" Team, which will represent the U.S. in the Olympic cross-country, competition. He is currently a member of the 15-man "B" team, from which the five-man U.S. squad will be selected.