Second top biathlete, Garrett Beckrich, commits to Paul Smith’s College

Apr 24, 2020 | News

Paul Smith’s College and the United States Biathlon Association have announced a second athlete to enroll at the college. Garrett Beckrich, a 19-year-old from Grand Rapids, Minn., is a member of USBA’s Junior National Team. He started participating in biathlon in 2017 and already has competed in three Youth/Junior World Championships.

“I was thrilled when my coach Tim (Burke) told me about the opportunity to go to Paul Smith’s College through US Biathlon,” said Beckrich. “This is something that hasn’t existed before in the U.S. All the senior biathletes that I know either didn’t go to college or they were NCAA cross country skiers. Last year I was offered scholarships by colleges to ski for them, however, it would have meant putting the rifle down for a few years. I didn’t want to do that so I postponed my decision and gave myself another year to think. Lucky for me this opportunity came up and I can’t be more excited.”

The youngster came to US Biathlon from the Mt. Itasca Biathlon Club in Coleraine, Minn., where he started biathlon four years ago. Beckrich intends to study biology at Paul Smith’s College.

“I’m excited to see what next year will look like. I hope to train as much as I can at Paul Smith’s College and in Lake Placid, and go overseas to race without it interfering with school. It’s exciting that I’m able to test how it all works.”

Tim Burke is a four-time Olympian, originally from Paul Smiths, and the Director of Athlete Development for US Biathlon. Burke believes Paul Smith’s College is a perfect fit for Beckrich.

“As one of our first student/athletes at Paul Smith’s College, Garrett will be a great example to others, showing that it’s possible to pursue sport at the highest level, all while receiving a college education,” continued Burke. “Garrett has always been known for his hard work. I look forward to seeing this pay off both on the field of play and in the classroom.”

Last month, Lina Farra, born in Saranac Lake, N.Y., and living in Heber City, Utah, was USBA’s first commitment to PSC which created this sport and education initiative and targeted the Nordic sports in 2017. Attaching a new Nordic trails center to its campus was integral to bringing the concept to an international level. Paul Smith’s will be the only school in the country with a soon-to-be sanctioned FIS trail system in its midst.

“We are so excited that Garrett will be joining the Paul Smith’s College community,” remarked Matt Dougherty, the school’s head Nordic coach. “We know that Garrett and the other athletes joining this education and sports initiative are going to find so much support at Paul Smith’s from the professors, classmates, and staff. Garrett is going to be a tremendous pioneer in leading the charge in melding a powerful education while pursuing world-class sized dreams in sport. The community at Paul Smith’s is excited to share in this journey and do everything we can to support Garrett, Lina and all the other athletes spearheading this new initiative.”

In December, a similar relationship was created with USA Nordic, whereby Paul Smith’s became the national governing body’s Official East Coast Training Center. It is expected that in the near future the college will see a few USA Nordic athletes commit.

For two reasons, the future stars of US Biathlon and USA Nordic will attend the college at the perfect time. The first is a massive investment by New York State in upgrading Lake Placid’s 1980 Olympic venues, especially the Nordic and ski jumping sites. The other is the approaching 2023 World University Games to be staged in and around Lake Placid. Preparations are already underway for those games. It is possible that some of this initial class enrolling at Paul Smith’s could participate in the World Universiade and represent the United States.

About Paul Smith’s College
At Paul Smith’s College, it’s about the experience. We are the only four-year institution offering broad-based higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs – in fields such as natural sciences, sustainability, forestry, business, hospitality, recreation, and culinary arts – draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. For more information, visit

About US Biathlon
US Biathlon is an Olympic sports organization that leads the growth of biathlon in the U.S., developing champions seeking Olympic success. It promotes a thriving biathlon community in America that inspires a lifelong and passionate pursuit of personal and athletic excellence.

Garrett Beckrich images courtesy USBA/Jeffrey Leopold



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