Paul Smith’s College ready to have new 5K trail network homologated for Nordic and biathlon competitions

News photo — Lou Reuter Student-athletes Lina Miner-Fara, front, and Dolcie Tanguay aim at the targets on Wednesday when they fired the first shots at the new biathlon range at Paul Smith’s College.

PAUL SMITHS — Paul Smith’s College, working in concert with USA Nordic and US Biathlon, is now positioned to have its new five-kilometer (3.1 miles) Nordic trail network homologated by the International Ski Federation and the International Biathlon Union for elite level racing.

When completed, the college will be the only collegiate facility in the United States with sanctioned trails for Nordic skiing and a biathlon range, both on campus, en route to its goal of becoming the top Nordic and biathlon school in the country. The architect of the 5K network is Olympic trail designer John Morton.

“In the 28 years of designing recreational trails and competition venues, I have rarely seen a location with more potential for trail-based recreational activities than what currently exists at Paul Smith’s College,” said Morton. “After homologation, it would not be surprising to see international level competitions held on this campus.”

“Having Nordic ski trails on campus is as unique as it is wonderful for the student athletes, but it’s the quality of the terrain and the design of the trails that will make this snow pocket a must-ski course in the East,” said Max Cobb, US Biathlon CEO. “On top of that, having this network homologated will get the attention of the biathlon community everywhere. Thank you, Paul Smith’s College for making this happen so quickly for our athletes and skiers everywhere.”

The milestone marks another achievement for Paul Smith’s College and its burgeoning education and sport initiative. Born from the desire to enable athletes to pursue an education during their prime competitive years, PSC has entered into official relationships with US Biathlon and USA Nordic to bring rising, elite level athletes to the Adirondacks to attend post-secondary education while improving their athletic skills. The two national governing bodies have wholeheartedly supported the concept, and members of their respective teams are currently at PSC attending class and training for their rapidly approaching seasons.

“The new trails, along with homologation for both sports, brings us to the next level in attracting student/athletes,” said Matt Dougherty, PSC Nordic coach. “To see how far we’ve come and how fast we’ve moved is indicative of the commitments we have all made, from our school’s leadership to our professors and athletic department personnel.”

USA Nordic Executive Director Bill Demong, whose Olympic gold and silver medals had their genesis in this region as a youth, is another who can’t wait for the snow to accumulate in his home area.

“Having a Nordic facility of this caliber at Paul Smith’s College is an incredible asset for athletes to train and compete while pursuing a world class education,” said Demong, who grew up in nearby Vermontville. “Hats off to the team who put together this incredible plan and executed it quickly and efficiently. Also, having the trails certified internationally definitely gives the complex an elevated presence in Nordic skiing. We can’t wait to show the world what a resource Paul Smith’s College has to offer.”

At the moment, athletes and recreational skiers alike are waiting for Mother Nature’s cooperation to allow the Nordic complex to open for the season.