From January 29 to February 3, cross-country skiers and biathletes on the U.S. Paralympic Team will have the opportunity to compete in a World Cup on home turf. The U.S. Olympic Committee announced earlier in October that Telemark Resort in Cable, Wisconsin is set to host the biggest international nordic event the U.S. has seen since 2005, when the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Biathlon and Cross-Country World Championships were held in Fort Kent, ME.
Central Cross Country (CXC) and the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Federation have partnered up with U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), to host the event. While the USOC will be funding a the majority of the event, a $20,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism helped make holding the races a reality for event organizers.
Wisconsin’s tourism department is excited about showcasing the home of the American Birkebeiner to a larger international audience. Between the six scheduled races — two biathlon and four cross-country — over 100 athletes from 15 countries are expected to compete.
John Farra, the USOC’s High Performance Director of Nordic Skiing, is simply happy the U.S. athletes will for once have the home course advantage.
“It’s a chance to get the Europeans out of their element over here, which is what our guys have to experience 90% of the time, able bodied or adapted,” he said.
In addition to the World Cup events in Cable, athletes are being invited to participate in the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis, Minnesota following the final IPC races. Farra said one team has already confirmed their participation for the popular festival that typically attracts 10,000 competitors.
Sean Halsted, who has been on the U.S. adaptive cross-country squad since 2006, sees international racing exposure for developing athletes as one of the greatest benefits of a hosting a World Cup.
“We’re definitely excited more people can participate,” he said. “We’d like to have more development guys come overseas, but now they have a chance to get in a race.”
Two years out from the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Farra noted that getting developing athletes in world-class competition is especially important.
“For sure, I’m excited,” he said. “[It’s an] opportunity to encourage more athletes to participate that we normally can’t take to the a World Cup.”
For more details about the IPC World Cup, visit the official website.
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.