Europe puts American football’s popularity to the test

NORDIC HERITAGE SPORT CLUB (NHSC) in Presque Isle, ME plans to hold a 500 person volunteer staffed BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon competition in February of 2016.

Jane Towle, Event Director for the Presque Isle World Cup Biathlon claims this is potentially the largest volunteer effort for one sporting event in the state of Maine. In addition to funds to support the competition itself, surplus funds raised by the event go directly to NHSC and allow the facility to exist and provide what has become an invaluable community service to Central Aroostook County, parts of Western New Brunswick and throughout Maine for 15 years. It encourages outdoor recreation, physical activity and civic education. All this for a sport that’s popularity in Europe puts American football’s popularity to the test.

Jane points out how this event represents a micro-example of the global economy.

According to Jane, a real estate broker by profession, money spent in the community, business connections partnering private, public and community interests, and visits to this family friendly community by tourists and spectators makes this a significant economic and cultural development event for the region. No doubt, it has become what lots of people get really excited about in Aroostook County.

“If you like to volunteer, this is an exciting event to be a part of.” Jane says, “It’s fun, dynamic and a bonding experience for the community”

If asked what keeps her up at night preparing for World Cup? Jane says with a laugh, “two things, the stability of the Euro and the weather.”

In 2011 Presque Isle hosted a Biathlon World Cup at the Nordic Heritage Center. It had the highest TV viewership ratings of all the Biathlon World Cup circuit races that year. Three years later in 2014, NHSC hosted the World Jr. Biathlon Championships, another event hosting 35 countries from around the world.

“Typically 3-4 years pass between bids for these events,” says Jane.

She went on to explain that keeping Nordic Heritage Center operational in between Biathlon World Cup bids is no small task. The Steering Committee of the Nordic Heritage Sport Club does a terrific job organizing the volunteers who clear and groom trails, upkeep the buildings and organize the volunteer-staffed youth programming. It takes time, money, and effort, and the Steering Committee does tremendous work year-round to keep the facility operational.

“World Cups are our major fundraiser and will bridge NHSC to the next chance that we have to bid again.” Says Jane.

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