The reborn Telemark Resort in Cable will host 100 athletes this weekend in an international paralympic ski competition that will serve as a test of the area’s Olympic ambitions.
The new operators of Telemark, in a partnership with the Central Cross Country Ski Association, are striving to create an Olympic training center for skiers and mountain bikers, in an area famous for the American Birkebeiner and Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.
Some may be skeptical, given the iconic resort's history of foreclosure and decay. Once a training ground for the U.S. Olympic Nordic Ski team, the lodge closed because of financial struggles in 2010, then re-opened in 2011 under new ownership.
Oyvind Solvang, the president of CXC, said hosting the International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup series races will be a “fantastic way to make the area known” to elite athletes and organizers.
Hundreds of rooms in the lodge have been renovated and the CXC elite team has set up its training headquarters there.
Athletes using adaptive equipment will compete in four ski races and two biathlons, then shift to Minneapolis for the City of Lakes Loppet.
The event opened on Thursday, and includes an opportunity for the athletes to also test their ice fishing skills.
Local organizers received a $20,000 Ready Set Go! grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to help secure funding to bring the IPC World Cup races to northern Wisconsin.
"In addition to the competition, the U.S. Olympic Committee really wants us to provide cultural opportunities in the regions where the athletes are participating," Cable Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director James Bolen told the Ashland Current.
"We wanted to give them a winter time experience, and one that is enjoyed by many in the north,” Bolen said. “Thanks to the DNR, which has been an excellent partner, we were able to do so."
The Paralympic races also extend the CXC role in providing equipment and training for skiers with disabilities.
Working with the University of Wisconsin – Madison, CXC has distributed skit-skis throughout the Midwest and has improved the devices to assist skiers.