PRESQUE ISLE — The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Nordic ski team will be bringing a unique new event especially for ski enthusiasts to the region in January — a ski event that serves as both a student athletic competition and a community race. The first Owl Invitational will take place Jan. 25-26 at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle and the entire event is open to the public. Registration is $10 per race; races are open to skiers 18 and older.
“This is the first time we’ve done a citizen race,” UMPI ski coach Shea Cushman explained. “We want our students to be able to race against all ability types and also help strengthen the connection between our college level skiers and the community. This is about bringing more events and a greater general awareness of cross country skiing, especially competition at the college level, to the region.”
The event has the added benefit of showcasing the world-class skiing venue available at the Nordic Heritage Center. Race organizers are eager to share the trail system, the lodge and their capacity for hosting skiing events with both those close to home and those visiting from other parts of the state.
This is the team’s first year in the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) and, as part of its affiliation, team members are allowed to compete outside of USCSA conference races. Student-athletes can participate in individual events across the country and also have the option to participate in events like a citizen race.
“A citizen race means that anyone 18 and older is welcome to participate in what is traditionally a college ski race,” Cushman said. “These races will include collegiate ski athletes from UMPI and the University of Maine at Farmington, as well as any adult skiers in the community who would like to take part. Those who are itching for a ski racing challenge definitely won’t want to miss this event.”
The Owl Invitational will include a 5K skate at 2 p.m. on Jan. 25 and a 10K classic at 9 a.m. on Jan. 26.
For more details about the event and registration, visit owls.umpi.edu/sports/skiing. The event page will go live in early January. For those who don’t want to race, but are willing to volunteer during the event, please reach out to UMPI Athletic Director Dan Kane at 207-768-9475 or email@example.com.