Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Dude, we're in the County." Fort Kent Biathlon World Cup Spectator Report

For those of you who don't understand the title here's a brief glossary:
  • The County, is Aroostook County, the largest, and northernmost county in the State of Maine
  • Fort Kent, one of the small towns in the county that borders New Brunswick, Canada
  • Biathlon, Nordic Skiing and shooting, see previous post.
Ok, now that you know what I'm talking about I should also explain that the Biathlon world cup coming to the U.S. is a BIG DEAL, the last time it happened was in 2004. The audience for the races is about 6 Million viewers in Germany, as well as another 4 million or so across Europe. Biathlon is legit.

Right, so back in the Fall I asked twitter if anybody wanted to go and I got Cary and Colin to agree, fast forward a few hundred e-mails, and a few months and we also got Lauren to come along.

Colin in his Natural state while we wait for the mad scientist

We left Chez Resultsboy on Friday afternoon and got on the road heading north in Rush hour. On the way up there was the typical road trip banter, and after a few hours Colin and I had degraded so much that we were only talking to each other via the internet, excluding Lauren entirely.

Anyhow, we arrived in Presque Isle Maine just before midnight to stay at the fine residence of some friends of Cary who race for the Maine Nordic Heritage Center. The accommodations were fantastic, and we were a scant hour away from the Venue.

On Saturday morning we woke up plenty early to get up to Fort Kent to watch the men's pursuit that started at 9:15, so after a stop at Tim Hortons for breakfast in the Bou we made our way up to Fort Kent to watch the races.

Colin needed 3 cups to get going on Saturday

We made it to the venue with moments to spare and just caught the start. I'll spare the details, but we had a great view and the race was a classic, coming down to a very uncommon sprint finish.
The view of the Range
The rest of the stadium


After the first race, the four of us walked around for a bit at the venue, then went into town for some second breakfast at a diner where Cary made a breakfast sandwich, an omlette wrapped in a pancake.


The river that divides the bustling Metropolis of Fort Kent in two

Cary eating a healthy snack

Then, back on the bus to the Venue, watched the Women's Pursuit from another part of the stadium, which was another great race, featuring some really top notch competition and some chillier temps.

View of the Stadium during the women's pursuit


After the race we boogied on down back to our housing in Presque Isle for a few hours of skate-skiing at the Nordic Heritage Center. I skied with Lauren, who totally cleaned my clock for an hour before I got my rhythm, the trails were fantastic and the weather was great.




Lauren taking in the view of the County
Lauren and I went over the mountain, it was hard.

After the ski, I had an epic BONK from not eating lunch then skiing on an empty stomach, but after a nice meal at the house I recovered. We all crashed pretty around 10, knowing we had another early rise on Sunday to watch another day of racing. Next morning, wake up, stop by Tim Hortons and head up to Fort Kent, where again, we narrowly made the start of the Men's Mass Start Event.

It was another great race, it was a bit chilly, something like 4 Degrees F and the racing was fantastic. American Lowell Bailey had a fantastic race, finishing in the top ten, getting a solid result for the good ole USA, and yeah, it was fun. Then we went into town for no reason except to get warm before the women's race.
The leaders early on during the men's mass start
The Men's Mass Start attacks the small climb before the stadium


This guy looked awesome
The Bathroom at a Gas Station in Fort Kent


Right, so hopped on the bus after the walk through town, headed back up the venue, Colin bought a vuvuzela, but didn't know how to use it, so I took charge of the situation and put it to good use as we watched the women's mass start race. Then after the race, back on the bus, back to the car, jetted on down to Presque Isle, and we did another ski.
Colin playing with his new toy after the women's mass start race


I'm getting tired of writing at this point, so here are a few photos of the last ski, which I did solo.





After the ski it was time for a shower, and a 6.5 hour drive back to Sommerville which went pretty smoothly, including a stop for Calzones at WHOP.

Home by 11:45pm thanks to Cary's "spirited" driving. All together great weekend.