March 11, 2005
After the curtain goes down on the final competition at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Nordic Skiing World Championships at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Fort Kent on Sunday, March 20, the scores of athletes and coaches, numerous event sponsors, and hundreds of volunteers will gather at the University of Maine at Fort Kent for a closing gala celebration.
More than 400 people involved in the IPC games in one capacity or another are expected to take part in the celebration at the UMFK SportsCenter, which will feature an awards ceremony, short program and most importantly an opportunity for all involved in the event to celebrate two successful, memorable and inspiring weeks.
"The IPC events are providing all of us on campus, and others who are witnessing the games, an extraordinary opportunity to see how the human spirit can overcome physical challenges," said UMFK President Richard Cost. "Events such as this one and last year's World Cup are also providing important new economic, social and cultural development opportunities for the St. John Valley. We are pleased to support this effort in every way that we can."
Shortly after the announcement that the IPC games would be coming to Fort Kent from March 9 through March 21, UMFK entered into a partnership with local organizers similar to one forged with the community volunteer organization that hosted the 2004 Biathlon World Cup competitions in 2004.
Under the agreement with the IPC, UMFK is serving as the host site and administrative headquarters for a number of activities held away from the Maine Winter Sports Center's 10th Mountain Division Lodge.
Specifically, the University has allocated space in the campus SportsCenter for accreditation of hundreds of community volunteers, athletes, and officials, as well as provided space for distribution of the official volunteer uniform.
The UMFK SportsCenter has also been the site for athlete classification to allow officials with the IPC to test athletes to determine their level of ability for competition.
Throughout the two weeks of sport, coaches and team officials from each of the participating nations are holding a total of seven team captain's meetings on the UMFK campus. The meetings are held to discuss details of the next day's competition, and in some cases to determine the start order of athletes in the race.
IPC officials are also holding two sports assembly meetings at UMFK during their time in Fort Kent. The gatherings are held to address the future of the IPC movement.
IPC Nordic skiing competitions are open to athletes with a physical disability (sit-ski and standing classes) and visually impaired athletes, who compete with a sighted guide. The competitions involve two disciplines, cross-country and biathlon. Male and female individuals may compete in short distance, middle distance, long distance and Biathlon events or participate in a team relay using classical or free techniques.