FORT KENT – It’s only six months away, but 30 active teams are already working on plans for the 2011 World Cup Biathlon, to be held the second week of February at Fort Kent’s 10th Mountain Ski Center.
Nancy Thibodeau, Event Director and Ski Club trustee for 10th Mountain, said Monday that volunteers and planning groups are trimming and shaping the trails, organizing housing and transportation, putting together a new downtown and big-screen entertainment systems, and finalizing the myriad of smaller but necessary details.
“Things are moving along nicely,” said Thibodeau. “We’re very busy up here.”
Trail updates and corrections are being done for proper widths, to correct any tight or dangerous curves, and to ensure clear access, along with 50 new rifle racks being built, all in preparation for the International Biathlon Union Inspection.
Two accommodations work groups, one for athlete housing and one for spectator housing, are also actively inspecting available places to stay and coordinating their efforts, said Thibodeau. The groups are also working on securing rental cars and buses.
An improvement this year will be a better preparation of the spectator standing area, which had been packed throughout the last event in 2004.
“At the end, we had so many spectators that people were leaning off trees,” said Thibodeau.
This year, she said, the planners will make the spectator areas more accessible to visitors. They have also changed some of the competition trails, adding more uphills, and more difficult sections to the trail systems at athletes’ request.
For downtown activities, the groups are very active in their planning at this stage, Thibodeau said, with entertainment plans in the works for spectators before and after events. While they are bringing back activities that were a hit, they are also planning something new – a big-screen video show that will entertain early arrivals, as spectators are asked to show up at least two hours early for events. The video, a new production, will highlight things to do in Fort Kent, including ATVing, snowmobiling, fishing, canoeing, hiking, biking, and other seasonal favorites.
Fort Kent is one of two stops on the 2011 Biathlon World Cup circuit. Athletes will compete at Presque Isle’s Nordic Heritage Center on February 4 - 6, then will travel to Fort Kent’s 10th Mountain Ski Center on Monday, Feb. 7, which will be a travel and rest day, said Thibodeau. Athletes will train on Tuesday and Wednesday, and will compete on February 10, 11, 12 and 13 in Fort Kent.
Organizers of the 10th Mountain even plan to have a press conference in either August of September, said Thibodeau, which will be announced once IBU inspections are complete.
Both centers have experience with hosting large-venue winter events, as Fort Kent hosted the first Biathlon World Cup in Maine history in March 2004, and Presque Isle hosted the Biathlon World Junior Championship in 2006.
Thibodeau said they are still looking for volunteers to help with preparations and with the event. Beginning next week, forms will be available in the community, she said, as well as online at www.biathlon-fortkent.org beginning approximately Sept. 1.