FORT KENT, Maine — Nearly 80 athletes of all levels, from master skiers to 13-year-old first-time competitors from America and Canada, are expected to participate in the 2016 North American and U.S. Biathlon Championships this week at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center.
The spectator-friendly venue is hosting its seventh such championship for the sport that combines cross-country ski racing with target shooting.
Most members of the U.S. national team who competed in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia and the World Cup Biathlon last month in Presque Isle will be in Fort Kent this week, according to Carl Theriault, one of the organizers.
Local athletes from Aroostook County also are expected to participate, including Cody Johnson of Fort Kent and Brendan Cyr of Caribou, who both made the World Junior Team this year and competed in Romania.
Many of the competitors from the national team as well as from local and regional biathlon and Nordic clubs across the U.S. and Canada were already at the venue Wednesday morning practicing.
Kyle Boschen and Bill Quinlan of the Colorado Biathlon Club were getting ready inside the center’s 10th Mountain Lodge Wednesday, with fellow Colorado biathlete Joanne Reid.
“Let’s go pop some brass,” Boshen said, as they left for some time on the shooting range.
Reid, 23 and an accomplished cross-country skier, only started shooting and competing in biathlons this season, she said.
But she already has had very good results and has caught the eye of some U.S. coaches.
The Auburn Ski Club, based in Soda Springs, California, sent a contingent of athletes, including several youth and junior racers. This is the first time any of them have been to the Fort Kent facility, they said.
“This should be a great week of racing,” said Erik Lewish, an assistant coach with the U.S. team.
The race schedule includes official training Wednesday, a sprint competition starting at 2 p.m. Thursday, pursuit competition at 10 a.m. Friday, and the always exciting mass start competition beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.