Biathlon World Cup event coming to County

13 years ago

By Kevin Sjoberg
Sports Reporter

    PRESQUE ISLE – Aroostook County has an unprecedented opportunity to shine on the world stage this coming February, when the region hosts the entire 2011 North American Biathlon World Cup tour.
    Efforts to prepare the region for the significant economic development and international winter sport activity are well under way in both central Aroostook and the St. John Valley, where the two Maine Winter Sports Center venues and surrounding communities will play host to thousands of visitors.
     “The two World Cups in Aroostook County will be the largest event of any type ever held in Maine. With 120 million sets of eyes focused on the two events, our communities have a unique opportunity to leave an impression with the European tourism industry that will make them want to come and visit. That kind of opportunity requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and there is no place where that culture is stronger than Aroostook County,” said Andy Shepard, president and CEO of the Maine Winter Sports Center.
     To help mobilize the region, event organizers are preparing for the first public event in advance of the coming World Cup, which is designed to both build momentum and funding resources to support the hosting effort. 
    The 2011 Biathlon World Cup Gala will be held at the newly-opened Crow’s Nest Restaurant and Event Center (formerly Slopes) on the Maysville Road in Presque Isle on Saturday, Nov. 13 from 7-11 p.m.
     “I am thrilled to be a part of such a hard-working group of individuals who see the value of donating their time to a cause such as this,” said Jane Towle, gala coordinator. “The fact that Aroostook County is hosting two Biathlon World Cups back to back is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we can benefit tremendously.
    “It’s impossible to place a dollar value on the amount of exposure that Aroostook County will gain from these events, and the resulting economic impact will be felt by residents, business owners, and visitors for a long time to come. It’s important for everyone to come together to help put Aroostook County on the map,” she added.
    The gala will include a live and silent auction of valuable items donated by numerous Aroostook County businesses. All proceeds from event sponsorship, ticket sales and the auction will go toward the effort to host the Biathlon World Cup event in the County.
     This will be the Nordic Heritage Center’s first World Cup, and will be held Feb. 4-6, 2011, a week before Fort Kent’s World Cup (Feb. 10-13). The sport of biathlon combines the precision of rifle marksmanship with the aerobic requirements of cross-country skiing.
     Fort Kent’s 10th Mountain Ski Club hosted the first Biathlon World Cup in Maine history in March of 2004 and drew very favorable reviews from the athletes, European TV and from the International Biathlon Union. That event created $5.2 million in economic impact for the St. John Valley and was seen by 50 million viewers in Europe. It also had 17 hours of broadcast time in the United States on the Outdoor Life Network (now Versus).
     Presque Isle’s emergence onto the international biathlon scene came in 2006 when the Nordic Heritage Sport Club hosted the Biathlon Junior World Championships. The IBU considered that to be the best World Junior Championships event ever and is supporting the Nordic Heritage Center’s bid for that event again in 2014. Presque Isle’s hosting of Junior Olympics this past winter brought superlative reviews from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA), which awards the event.
    Individual tickets for the gala are $25 each. For more information, to participate as a sponsor or guest, or for those with an auction item to donate, e-mail