An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Aug. 2, 2023

176th Air Defense Squadron surveillance technician competes in arctic triathlon

By David Bedard 176th Wing Public Affairs

In subarctic winter conditions, running or bicycling outside over mountainous terrain with snow and ice canvassing the countryside can be a challenge. 

Combine both events back-to-back and add in cross-country skiing, and the level of difficulty increased exponentially for Alaska Air National Guard Senior Airman Kenyon DePriest, 176th Air Defense Squadron surveillance technician, during the World Winter Triathlon Championships hosted at Skeikampen, Norway, in March.

While picking up and following a radar track sitting at his “scope,” a computer terminal that has access to heaps of information coming from several radar sources across the state and region, DePriest daily negotiates a high-tech triathlon of sorts: detecting aircraft, identifying them, and tracking the blips as they transit near or through Alaska airspace.

In Norway, DePriest’s months of training came together as he ran 5.4 kilometers, biked 10, and skied 10.4 kilometers.

The journey to the Skeikampen Ski Arena began in Palmer, Alaska, where DePriest grew up and was recognized by a local newspaper as the athlete of the week for his exploits as a high school football wide receiver.

Following graduation, DePriest worked construction on football fields for several years before joining the Navy at 25 as an aviation electronics technician generating F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters from the deck of the Nimitz-class carrier USS Carl Vinson.

“I spent most of my time as a plane captain,” DePriest recalled. “So, I was dealing with daily inspections, setup for the pilot, launch and recovery of the aircraft, and then inspections when the planes came back.”

Stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, DePriest missed venturing around Alaska’s mountains, and the state was calling him to return.

“It was pretty flat where I was stationed,” he said. “It was a two-hour drive in any direction to do anything I enjoyed during the weekends when I had time off.”

After returning to Alaska, DePriest joined the 176th Wing as a surveillance technician, working as a traditional weekend-drilling Guard member before earning a full-time position in the 176th ADS. With a successful career in hand, the athlete looked to the new challenges of competing in winter triathlons.

With minimal train up, DePriest signed up for the Tri Flake Winter Triathlon hosted at Anchorage in January, and he placed well enough to qualify to represent Team USA in Norway.

“I competed in the age-group division and not the elite division this year,” he said. “I’m working my way hopefully into the elite division.”

The European expedition amounted to a reconnaissance in force for DePriest, he said, unmasking his strengths and weaknesses.

“The run and the bike are definitely my strong suits,” DePriest said. “I’m still working on the techniques and getting better at skate skiing. Skate skiing on flat ground is easy; it’s going uphill that’s hard.”

He had never done any type of cross-country skiing before his preparation for the Anchorage event. Perhaps the saving grace of his inexperience was he had nothing to unlearn from traditional cross-country skiing. Skate skiing – pushing off like using ice skates – is more difficult to do than the straight-line, classic skiing, but it is much faster.

Ultimately, skiing did prove to be DePriest’s most challenging event, and he was surprised how hard he had to push after putting all of his effort into the run and bike races.

“Skiing was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be after doing the first two legs of the triathlon,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a little bit easier after doing pre-runs of the course, but it was a tough course after the first two events.”

Having competed in an international event, DePriest said he will double his efforts in the next year with the ultimate goal of being able to represent the United States at the top tier of the sport.

“There was no one from the United States in the elite division over there,” he said. “It’s definitely a Europe-heavy sport, so it will be pretty cool if I get into the elite group in the next few years.”

Alaska Army Guardsmen compete in Best Warrior Competition 2024
May 21, 2024
laska Army National Guard Sgt. Brendan White, an infantryman assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, is awarded 2024 Noncomissioned Officer of the Year in a closing ceremony during the AKARNG’s State Best Warrior Competition at Camp Carroll on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 18, 2024.

Gobi Wolf 2024 strengthens partnerships for disaster resilience
May 20, 2024
Airman 1st Class Stefany Brummer, a fire protection specialist with the Alaska Air National Guard, operates the backup safety line during the Field Training Exercise’s high-angle rescue techniques training at Gobi Wolf 2024 in Choibalsan, Mongolia, May 9. The teams showcased best practices in safely extracting trapped individuals from precarious situations.

Alaska National Guard kicks off initial phase of Kodiak Arctic Care ‘24
May 9, 2024
Members of the U.S. Public Health Service offload from an Alaska Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 144th Airlift Squadron, 176th Wing, during Kodiak Arctic Care 24 Innovative Readiness Training Mission at Kodiak, Alaska, May 6, 2024.

Alaska Air Guard’s 168th Wing Refuels Red Flag Exercise
May 8, 2024
A U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon approaches the boom of a 168th Wing KC-135 Stratotanker during Red Flag Alaska 24-1 aerial refueling operations over Alaska April 24, 2024. The 168th Wing provided air refueling during the exercise.

Exercise Gobi Wolf 2024 Begins in Heart of Mongolian Steppe
May 8, 2024
Brig. Gen. B. Uuganbayar, left, deputy director of the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency, presents a commemorative anniversary plaque to Australian Maj. Gen. Scott Winter, deputy commanding general - strategy and plans for the U.S. Army Pacific, during the Gobi Wolf 2024 opening ceremony at the Governor’s Palace in Choibalsan, Mongolia, May 7, 2024. Gobi Wolf is an annual joint exercise coordinated by the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Army Pacific that focuses on interagency coordination within Mongolia, as well as foreign humanitarian assistance during a large-scale natural disaster.

Alaska State Defense Force volunteerism shines at Mat-Su Arctic Winter Games
April 24, 2024
na

First annual AKNG Earth Day inspires youth, brings awareness to military’s role in conservation
April 24, 2024
N/A

U.S. Army and Marine Corps forge joint efforts to enhance aviation tactics
April 23, 2024
An Alaska Army National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the 207th Aviation Troop Command performs a defensive maneuver while evading a simulated aerial threat during the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-24 near Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 28, 2024.

Alaska Air National Guard officer shares story with Service High JROTC
April 22, 2024
Alaska Air National Guard officer shares story with Service High JROTC

Alaska Air National Guard rescues stranded skiers at Kenai Fjords National Park
April 22, 2024
Stranded Skiers Rescued from Kenai Fjords National Park via Helicopter