The past few weeks were very busy up here in the county so rather than try to write a big essay that includes everything I've posted a bunch of pictures in hopes of sharing the most exciting parts.
First, I want to send my best wishes to my younger brother, Alex, who is racing in the final Eastern Collegiate Carnival this weekend in Rumford, Maine. He is ranked 6th on the men's NCAA qualifying list going into the weekend and hopes to be named to the UVM NCAA Championship team.
Ski Fast Alex!
We had the official ribbon cutting and open house at the new Jalbert Biathlon Residence during the world cups here in Fort Kent. The open house was very well attended and was catered. Andrea and I, the only two living here right now, were left with far too much really good food when it was over.
The view of the Jalbert Biathlon Residence from the road.....we have a bit more snow now though.
The first World Cups here in the county were held down in Presque Isle...about an hour and half from where I live in Fort Kent. This photo was taken from the first of three days of racing there when they bused in about 1,200 school children to watch the races. The kids made great spectators and came prepared with not only warm clothes but awesome noisemakers and banners.
Lots of excited children, teachers and chaperones!
Sara Studebaker, USA, racing in Presque Isle.
Tora Berger, Norway, one of the top women on the World Cup circuit. She's not always a solid shot on the range but she knows how to ski fast!
Haley Johnson, USA, racing in Presque Isle. Haley is actually engaged to my college roommate's older brother. Small world.
Haley signing autographs for a small mass of very excited school kids after one of the events in Presque Isle.
Seth, Jesse and Andrea hanging out with the Presque Isle mascot before the start of the mixed relay. Andrea wasn't sure how she felt about the mascot....apparently people who dress up as smiling, furry animals are frightening and not to be trusted.
Here Andrea overcomes her fear of the mascot by trying the head on for size and giving us her most frightening pose....too bad she couldn't keep the face from constantly smiling!
Here Sara chases down the competition during the first leg of the mixed relay in Presque Isle. The courses in PI were set up in such a fashion that we got to watch part of each race from the stadium but also had the option of spectating out on course.
Haley chasing down the Euros in the second leg of the mixed relay.
Magdelena Neuner, Germany, helps her team to the gold by skiing fast and shooting well for her second leg of the mixed relay.
The Europeans really don't mess around with their beer advertisements....especially not for the title sponsors of these events. Erdinger isn't sold in the US (yet) so they had to import any and everything that they wanted at this event. They had tons of product here and didn't stop at the beer itself but brought huge German style beer steins and glasses. In order to import the beer they even had to have special labels printed for each bottle that had the US refund info for each state as on regular beer that gets bought here in the US.
After the International Light Parade between Fort Kent, ME and Clair, New Brunswick the two towns had what seemed like a firework duel....Fort Kent launched from the top of Lonesome Pines Alpine area and Clair launched over the river. The whole display must have lasted at least 45 minutes...quite the ordeal when your house sits neatly between the two. The parade, which started right at dinner time and took place in 0 degree weather, took TWO HOURS! I couldn't believe how many people turned out!
The events in Fort Kent were such a big deal that even Scotty Pippen, yes, THE Scotty Pippen, decided to check it out. They were worried about him getting swarmed by media so they tried to keep it under wraps that he was coming but a 6'8'' African American man cannot hide in Aroostook County. I think he had fun...they even let him shoot after one of the races. Word has it he wasn't much the actual biathlon shooting technique and took to his knees instead.
The immaculate Fort Kent range prior to the pursuit races.
The massive range volunteer staff, dress alike right down to their hats, marches out at the start of the event. I worked on the range taking print-outs from the German guy managing the targets out to the volunteers on the range. The print-outs had the results based on the recordings from the targets. The volunteers I took them too had to cross-reference recordings from the range volunteers with the results I had from the targets. Everything gets triple checked! Can't have anyone getting a World Cup medal that they didn't earn!
The start area during the pursuit competitions. My mom worked here checking equipment markings before races and removing timing chips when athletes finished.
Stadium in Fort Kent as the women begin their mass start competition on the final day of the World Cups. The sun finally came out but it still didn't get out of the single digits.
The women's field heads out of the stadium.
The women come in for their first shooting stage. In the foreground is Sara Studebaker, USA. It was Sara's first World Cup Mass Start race. Only 30 athletes can participate in a mass start since there are only 30 targets on a biathlon range. Sara got lucky and was bib 30 for this event.
The World Cups were quite the experience. Lots of build up in the last year while living up here for the first time. Lots of excitement while I was happening. Now though....it's REALLY quiet. The trails seem almost desolate with the absence of volunteers preparing them and foreign athletes here to ski them. We have a few events coming up in the next few weeks before our final two weeks of racing at the end of March. I've registered for my first 50 kilometer race ever, happening a week from now. I'm also going to help out the Madawaska Middle School and Youth Ski Programs as much as I can in the next few weeks. Tomorrow we have a biathlon time trial right here on the trials where the World Cups took place. Sunday I'll contest what will be my 3rd Classic race of the season. Our biathlon season will end with a week in Minnesota for US Nationals and then a week in Charlo, New Brunswick for Canadian Nationals. Hopefully the snow holds out and the temperatures here in the County stay nice enough to allow for some quality training leading up to it!