The 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships opened in style on Friday (23 January) at the Lakewoods Resort in Cable, Wisconsin, USA with the help of a series of State and local dignitaries and even a lumberjack competition.
Local sit-skier Brenden Ojibwe and the Secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Tourism Stephanie Klett marked the opening by lighting a cauldron, watched by the gathered athletes, teams and crowds.
In the backdrop of Namakagon Lake, attendees were also treated to a live display of the lumberjack competitions that the Cable region is well known for.
Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker welcomed the 135 athletes from 15 countries to his home state and paid homage directly to the volunteers.
“I particularly want to thank the hundreds of volunteers who are making this possible,” Walker said.
Walker’s positive words to open the games were echoed by IPC Governing Board member Todd Nicholson, who urged athletes, coaches, organisers, officials and fans to take advantage of being able to show their best on the world stage.
“We have a big opportunity here,” Nicholson said. “The athletes, as ever, will put on their best performances and we can guarantee that there will be some amazing displays of strength and athleticism.”
“The opportunity that we have through Cable 2015 is to continue to entertain new fans, and attract even more. The high quality of the competition, the competitive field and the setting here all provide athletes with the perfect stage to do just that.”
The Cable region has become synonymous with American cross country skiing thanks in large part to the annual Birkebeiner race - commonly referred to as the Birkie - which stretches 51km for skaters and 55km for classical skiers.
Chief of Event Services for the Local Organising Committee Gerry Hansen shared his excitement for the events about to unfold over the next nine days.
“We are honored to have a front row seat to the intense competition that is sure to unfold beginning tomorrow,” Hansen said.
“Give it everything you have, hold nothing back. May these Championships be everything you wish them to be.”
Several local dignitaries represented the region to the world, including Mic Isham, Chief of the Lac Courte Oreilles, Ernie Stevens III, Executive Director of Native American Tourism of Wisconsin and two representatives from the Birkie, Executive Director Ben Popp and Race Director Shellie Milford.
The quartet of local representatives took on the role of IPC Flag Bearers for the Opening Ceremony.
James Bolen, Executive Director for the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce, opened his town’s doors to athletes, coaches and officials as part of his welcoming message.
“You will all find the hospitality you receive here is warm, welcoming and exceptional,” Bolen said.
“Locals will take a genuine interest in how you are doing and, more importantly, what they can do to assist you, not because you are elite athletes but because you are our guests.”
To close out the evening, American Nordic skier and Army veteran Andy Soule delivered the Athlete’s Oath to the packed crowd at Lakewoods Resort. BethAnn Chamberlin delivered the Coaches Oath and Chief of Competition Gary Larson recited the Oath for all officials with the Paralympic anthem marking the end of festivities.
Competition gets underway Saturday at 10am CST (GMT -6:00) with the biathlon short distance events at Telemark Resort.
Live results will be available while updates and behind the scenes pictures can be found at twitter.com/IPCNordic and facebook.com/IPCNordicSkiing.
A live stream will be shown at www.cable2015.com. All competitions begin at 10am local time every day, with rest days on 26 and 29 January.