US Biathlon HQ moves to Utah, national team still in Lake Placid
LAKE PLACID — The United States Biathlon Association announced Sept. 14 that its headquarters will be moving from New Gloucester, Maine to Midway, Utah. The decision followed an extensive search process and approval from the USBA Board of Directors.
Lake Placid will remain the home of the U.S. Biathlon National Team and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority will continue to host the team at Mount Van Hoevenberg and the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. Bozeman, Montana will remain the home of the U.S. Biathlon Junior National Team and U.S. Biathlon Paralympic Team.
U.S. Biathlon will move its headquarters to Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, which hosted biathlon and Nordic skiing during the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games.
The decision was made several weeks ago when the U.S. Biathlon Board of Directors approved the relocation recommendation made by a relocation committee, according to U.S. Biathlon Communications Coordinator Sara Donatello.
The relocation committee was led by U.S. Biathlon Hall of Fame member Andy Shepard, USBA Board member Sarah Conrad, athlete representative Kelsey Dickinson and U.S. Biathlon President and CEO Jack Geirhart.
“The four of them really led the charge on doing an extensive search on potential locations, weighing the pros and cons of each location and gathering intel from the various parties,” Donatello said.
After reviewing and narrowing down its location, the committee landed on three finalists: Midway, Lake Placid and Bozeman.
“The committee developed and presented what they were looking for in the various locations,” Donatello said. “There were Zoom and in-person meetings held. Once we got feedback from our various locations, there was a collaboration with our board of directors and with our athletes.”
ORDA Director of Communications Darcy Norfolk said ORDA officials were a little disappointed that U.S. Biathlon didn’t choose Lake Placid for its headquarters.
“But it’s all about athletes and sport,” she said. “We will continue to do everything we can and continue to do what we are already doing going forward to support the organization and the athletes. For us, nothing really changes, to be honest. This will still remain home for the national team. They will still use the facility. They’re here quite often. They’ll have the support of the Olympic Regional Development Authority, utilizing the Olympic Training Center as well.
“It’s kind of business as usual for us with things now. We didn’t lose anything per se. We just didn’t gain their office and headquarters. We understand their prerogative to want to explore having athletes out west join the sport and further develop it. We’ve been doing a pretty good job here, we’re just going to continue to do that so it can contain the momentum for the sport of biathlon going forward.”
U.S. Biathlon made the decision to relocate to expand its footprint and to grow the sport of biathlon in the U.S., Donatello said, and to be able to be a support resource for clubs all around the country.
“We thought having the national team in Lake Placid, having the junior national team in Bozeman and being able to leverage the location in Midway really led us to expand our footprint and be able to be an active member in three — of what we would consider — hubs for biathlon in the U.S.”
Donatello said having a stake in all three sites will be great for branding and growing the sport in the U.S.
“We felt like we could utilize all of our resources and continue to support and invest in creating more clubs and generating more interest in biathlon by being able to tap into those hubs around the country,” she said. “Lake Placid is still one of our pride and joy places and we really look forward to continuing to work with the Olympic Regional Development Authority and Mount Van Hoevenberg and the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center there to utilize those resources and to have our national team train and grow from that base as well as Midway and Bozeman.”
Team Soldier Hollow and the Soldier Hollow Charter School program combine for over 500 kids engaging in cross-country skiing at least twice per week during the winter. Soldier Hollow will welcome some of the top biathletes from across the globe when it hosts the IBU World Cup in March 2024.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has made it known that it views Salt Lake City as the leading candidate for either the 2030 or 2034 Olympic Winter Games.
The potential of hosting a future Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City “definitely” was a factor in U.S. Biathlon’s decision to relocate, Donatello said.
“Being able to be at the center of that, getting our branding and marketing our brand at the Nordic Center,” she said. “It was a small part in the larger decision, but it definitely did play a factor in the overall decision.
“There’s a plus — as you can imagine — all eyes in the world are on Soldier Hallow,” Donatello added. “It’s great to have our logo there alongside ski and snowboard, speedskating and climbing, and being able to be right in the center of the Olympic and Paralympic movement.”
U.S. Biathlon hopes to have its presence out west to bring a World Cup back to the U.S. — whether it’s in Lake Placid or Utah — more frequently than they have been, according to Donatello. The last time a North American site hosted an IBU World Cup was in Soldier Hollow in 2019. Prior to that, there were only five North American hosts since the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Presque Isle, Maine hosted a World Cup in 2016 and 2011, while Fort Kent, Maine hosted a World Cup in 2011 and 2005. Lake Placid last hosted a biathlon World Cup in 2005.
Norfolk believes the decision to relocate in the West won’t hurt Lake Placid’s chances of hosting an IBU World Cup in the future.
“We do have an IBU Cup on the schedule, so that’s already solidified,” she said. “We’re in demand for not only biathlon but with other sports. I think having another place, whether it’s Salt Lake or Lake Placid, having a different location for U.S. athletes to not only train but to compete on their home soil is just a prerogative of sport in general.”
The Soldier Hollow Nordic Center has hosted dozens of world-class international events since the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, including the 2022 IBU Youth and Junior World Championships and 2023 FIS Para Nordic World Cup and is scheduled to host the 2024 IBU World Cup. U.S.
“We are excited to expand our footprint westward and join the Utah Olympic community. Our presence in Midway directly supports our 2030 strategic plan to grow the sport of biathlon in the United States, recruit and develop top talent and support our athletes on their journey to the Olympic podium,” Gierhart said in a statement. “We are looking forward to engaging with the greater Heber Valley and Utah community and expanding our support of the vibrant and growing biathlon communities around the country.”