Paralympic Sitting Ski Trials scheduled for weekend near Bozeman | Olympic Games


MELISSA LOVERIDGE Bozeman Daily Chronicle

BOZEMAN – A local Nordic sports center is planning to host a qualifying race for the 2022 Paralympic Games over the holiday weekend.

The Crosscut Mountain Sports Center, northeast of Bozeman in Bridger Canyon, is expected to welcome about 20 para-Nordic athletes from across the United States for sit-ski races in its new biathlon stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s just a great opportunity for people to see these athletes that you can watch on TV (at) the Beijing Paralympic Games,” said Laurie Stahle, Marketing Director for Crosscut. “These athletes live and train in our community, but you wouldn’t normally be able to see them in a (live) race.”

The race is a qualifier for the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing, although it is not the first Paralympic qualifying race held at Crosscut. A handful of competing athletes have already won Paralympic medals, including 10-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters of Kentucky, via Ukraine.

Sit-skiing is a Paralympic event in which athletes run on skis strapped to what is essentially a high-tech chair.

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“They use the strength in their upper body to propel themselves forward,” Stahle said. “It’s definitely a feat of strength.”

The new biathlon stadium was built to host competitions in biathlon, an Olympic and Paralympic sport that involves target shooting between ski sessions. The stadium completion more than doubled Crosscut’s previous biathlon capacity, with 30 targets built for .22 caliber rifles used by non-adaptive athletes and 15 targets designed for airsoft guns used by para-athletes.

Although designed for biathlon, the stadium can also serve as a home for other events, such as the upcoming sit-ski race.

Races are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on both days, although Stahle said that could change depending on the weather. Saturday’s races are sprints, and Sunday’s race is a 5 kilometer race in which athletes will have staggered starts. A prize-giving ceremony is scheduled every day after the final race.

“Some of the best athletes in the world will be represented at the event, and it is definitely worth going to Crosscut to cheer on these incredible athletes,” said US Paralympics Nordic Skiing Director Eileen Carey. “We are delighted with the completion of the new biathlon stadium and eager to continue to develop our relationship with Crosscut Mountain Sports Center to train and support Paralympic athletes. “

Crosscut recently completed the first part of its three-phase capital improvement plan, which included the new biathlon lineup, the purchase of the Trappers Cabin Ranch and 200 new parking spaces, a network of race-ready trails and an update to mountain bike trails, according to the Crosscut website.

“Based on the success of our Phase 1 fundraising efforts and our ability to build new facilities on time and on budget, we are currently planning the next phase of our campaign,” said the Crosscut’s executive director, Jennifer Beaston, in an email. “Part of this will be setting an ambitious goal that we know will generate excitement and engagement in our community. “

Phases 2 and 3 of the plan, Beaston said, include the construction of a new pavilion and other new equipment like an ice climbing wall and a new playground.

“Being good neighbors both with our immediate neighbors in Bridger Canyon as well as with the great community of southwest Montana is really important to our Board of Directors and our staff, especially as we face the rapid growth in our use and popularity throughout the year, ”said Beaston. “We are keen to develop an appropriately sized lodge with additional amenities that are deeply rooted in our core values ​​of healthy community, inclusiveness and environmental stewardship.”

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at [email protected] or (406) 582-2651.

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