BRILLION (NBC 26) – At a kick-off event on Wednesday, AriensCO unveiled its new Nordic Center which will open in Brillion later this year. The center will include a year-round network of trails for recreation as well as training and competition for cross-country skiing, biathlon and more.
“We’re trying to layer trails for probably four different activities,” said John Morton, facility designer and owner of Morton Trails. “Biatholon, cross-country skiing, Paralympic events and leisure in general.”
The trails will be open to the public and will be accessible to people of all abilities, from recreational skiers to Olympic athletes.
“Elite athletes are going to be tested as the total climb of each loop meets international standards,” Morton said. “But recreational skiers can get out at a more relaxed pace and they can enjoy that too.”
CEO Dan Ariens says he was inspired to build the facility by local Olympic biathletes Deedra Irwin of Pulaski and Paul Schommer of Appleton.
“Our first inspiration was being in Europe with the biathlon team and learning from the athletes who were from the Midwest, especially two who were from Wisconsin,” Ariens said.
At the launch event, Irwin and Schommer said the facility will give more children the opportunity to try sports like Nordic skiing and biathlon. Schommer commented that if he had been exposed to biathlon earlier, he might have discovered his passion for the sport sooner.
“I didn’t really think college athletics was for me let alone the Olympics and after not realizing that potential until much later in my life it makes me really excited for a lot of kids to be able to maybe achieve this much sooner. “Schommer said.
Irwin said she was excited to train at the facility, which is the first of its kind in Wisconsin, adding that she looked forward to showing her team where she came from.
“You can sometimes come from a small farming community in the middle of nowhere and you can make it on the world stage and you can live your dreams of being a professional athlete,” Irwin said.
Schommer says the facility will not only attract other athletes from the Midwest to northeast Wisconsin, but will hopefully inspire future Olympians as well.
“To see the Ariens family now producing and creating a place that will not only introduce children to the sport of biathlon and cross-country skiing, but also have the opportunity to train at a very high level, I think we are going to be see a lot more Olympians coming from that part of the country,” Schommer said.
The facility is scheduled to open in December 2022. To learn more, you can visit ariensnordic.com