While spring training options were limited in many locations across the US for athletes due to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean the venues were quiet. Several Biathlon venues around the country have been busy with construction activity this spring. Craftsbury, Lake Placid, Soldier Hollow, and Auburn are among the venues undergoing big, recent updates.
At Craftsbury, the changes began with new range construction last fall. The range, which has 15 Kurvinen electronic-reset targets, will serve the venue well for both youth program development and NorAm and Trials races. Critical in the winter, the range is also lit. Adding to an already solid training situation at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, the rollerski loop is due to be completed by early July. Taking advantage of the inner race trails, this 3.5km figure-8 loop has varied terrain making it perfect for high-level training and competition. The paved full-size penalty loop also offers safe, flat terrain for rollerski beginners.
Fresh Pavement in Craftsbury, VT. (photo: Caitlin Patterson)
Lake Placid has been working on updates to the venue at Mount Van Hoevenberg for most of the past year. Since being awarded the 2023 World University Games, the state has put significant funds into the updating of the 1984 Olympic venue. In addition to a brand-new building that will serve race operations and the public alike, a new range and roller loop are also in the works. The range will move from the north side of the access road to the south, near the Nordic trailhead, and get all new Kurvinen targets. A new 3km rollerski loop will also be added as well as all new competition trails. A large snowmaking pond and new snowmaking guns lining 5km of trails make Lake Placid’s upgrades more like a complete renovation!
Out west, Soldier Hollow has been continuing to update the venue that saw significant upgrades ahead of the 2019 World Cup. Pavement in the Biathlon stadium is being widened by 10 feet to provide more opportunity for mass start and pursuit rollerski competition options. Paving is also underway to connect the rollerski loop to the updated paved parking lots for use in large group activities and several additional portions of the roller loop are being resurfaced. The upgrading of these loops will allow for even more distance options for training and competition. On the shooting range, SoHo is adding several 10-meter targets to accommodate their growing Paralympic program athletes. Lastly, a shade structure is in the works that will cover the first 10 points, making the hot summer training season more bearable for youth and public programming. All upgrades will be completed in time for the Soldier Hollow Fall Festival the week of October 12.
Fresh dirt work awaits repaving on the Soldier Hollow rollerski loop. (photo: Zach Hall)
Auburn Ski Club has invested heavily in updates to manage hazards that have affected the interplay between use of the biathlon venue and Nordic trails. Most notably, the range has been pushed further into the hillside to allow for a safer shooting situation and eliminate the need for trail closures when the range is in use. This past fall, updates were completed that paved a short section of trail from the parking lot and the firing line to allow for rollerski combination training. Auburn isn’t done, though, and plans to add more rollerski track, lighting on trails and the range, a roof over the targets as well as a lift system to ensure level targets in the winter and a designated biathlon range building for timing and scoring. The updates should help Auburn manage the average 411 inches of snow they receive annually at Donner Summit.
Newly paved range at Auburn Ski Club (photo: Brian Halligan)
Relatively recent upgrades to venues like Casper, WY and Jericho, VT mean great things for biathlon in the US. No doubt all biathletes will benefit from the updates at these venues!
Thanks to contributions from Hallie Grossman, Tim Burke, Zach Hall and Brian Halligan.