SODA SPRINGS, Calif. – Despite the incredibly dry winter California has experienced this year, Tahoe ski resorts were surprisingly white the last weekend in March. With fresh snow blanketing the mountains and little flurries floating toward the ground, Carol Schick-Lyda and the Auburn Ski Club could not have asked for better conditions for the Chuck Lyda Memorial Biathlon in Soda Springs, Calif., March 30.
Chuck Lyda was an Olympic and world champion kayaker. He also loved skiing and was named the first Nordic director for the Auburn Ski Club Training Center and was the Head Coach for the U.S. Biathlon Team in the XVIII Winter Olympics.
He served over 20 years in the California National Guard. He was appointed as the Head Coach and Assistant Officer in Charge of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program Biathlon Team from 1995 to 2002.
“We used to talk quite a bit about competing, training, and the dedication needed to be at the top level in sports,” said Staff Sgt. Darryl Moxley, a member of the California National Guard biathlon team, who knew Lyda through the Guard. “However, I never knew he was a Olympian and World Cup level athlete. He was very humble.”
Moxley said it meant a great deal to him to be able to compete in the event.
“I have gained a great deal of respect and admiration for a man who accomplished so much athletically,” Moxley said.
Over 50 pro, novice and youth biathletes competed in the race this year.
Two members of the California National Guard biathlon team also participated to pay respect to the late athlete.
“We competed to honor the life of dedicated service Chuck had, not just to the California National Guard but also to the community and to the athletic legacy of California’s youth,” said Lt. Col. Dan Markert, a member of the biathlon team who worked with Lyda coordinating mobilizing troops in Iraq in 2005.
His wife, Carol, and the Auburn Ski Club started the memorial biathlon event in 2010 after Lyda passed away.
“I wanted to continue his legacy,” Carol said. “Every year the race is getting bigger and I am very happy with the draw it has for the novice athlete.”
Lyda was dedicated to teaching skiing to athletes new to the sport. He taught cross-country skiing, ski jump, alpine ski and biathlon.
“He was a rockstar,” Daniel Schnurrenberger, a former kayaking teammate, friend and colleague of Lyda, said. “Between work ethic and skill, he had such an incredible dedication that really impressed me. There was never a quit in him.”