Caribou, ME – This past March the Nordic Heritage Sport Club of Presque Isle announced they were the winning bid to host the 2009 Junior Olympic Cross Country Skiing Championships. This was big news for the area since it is expected to bring over 400 competitors, 100 coaches and hundreds of family members to the area for the 8 day event. The economic impact for the event is expected to reach $2.2 million.
Organizers were aware of a potential conflict with the timing of the Biathlon World Cup scheduled for the same month. At that point, the actual dates of the events had not been set and it was the hope of all involved that there would be at least a week between the two. Unfortunately, when the dates were announced they both fell during the same week in March of 2009.
While it is possible for both sites to hold these events simultaneously, it was felt that holding the two largest events ever held in the County on the same week would cause both events to suffer with the need to split volunteer efforts, sponsorship dollars, press coverage and of course fans.
Maine Winter Sports Center (MWSC) Vice President John Farra explained that “when it comes time to roll out the red carpet for the world's best skiers or for the nation's best Junior skiers, we want them all to have a top quality experience and for them to have center stage during their stay. While we could not afford to lose either event for the economic impact that they bring, we really needed to make some major changes in the schedule to make it work for our region.”
Officials from Maine Winter Sports Center and the Nordic Heritage Sport Club began negotiations with the host for the 2010 Junior National event and they were able to reach an agreement to switch the Presque Isle event to 2010. This kind of switch is highly uncommon, but received unanimous support at the US Skiing Associations (USSA) Spring Conference in May. MWSC Coach Will Sweetser was present at the conference and remarked that “coaches around the country were clearly confident in the ability of the Nordic Heritage Sport Club to host a high quality competition and offer a terrific experience for the nation's best Junior skiers, so it was worth it for them to accommodate the switch in dates”.
“This is really an exciting development for our region”, said Farra. “Northern Maine continues to be recognized for hosting events of the highest standards in both skiing and biathlon. Now that we have secured these events, we start the process of planning for how we will make their time here extra special.” Nordic Heritage Sport Club President, Tim Vernon echoed the comments of Farra, saying” that the move from 2009 to 2010 was the right decision, and that the members of the Nordic Heritage Sport Club and the community were ready to show the athletes, coaches and families what Northern Maine has to offer.”