BRILLION (NBC 26) — At a kickoff event Wednesday, AriensCO unveiled its new Nordic center that will be opening in Brillion later this year. The center will include a year-round trail network 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, the designer of the facility and owner of Morton Trails. "Biatholon, cross-country skiing, paralympic events, and general recreation.”
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 because the total climb for each loop meets the international standards," Morton said. "But recreational skiers can go out at a more relaxed pace and they can also enjoy it.”
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 of the athletes that came from the Midwest, particularly two that came from Wisconsin,” Ariens said.
At the kickoff 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 may have discovered his passion for the sport sooner.
“I didn’t really think that college athletics was for me much less 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 maybe be able to realize that a lot sooner,” Schommer said.
Irwin commented that she's excited to train at the facility, which is the first of its kind in Wisconsin, adding that she can't wait to show her team where she's from.
“You can come from a small farming community in the middle of nowhere sometimes 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 around the Midwest to Northeast Wisconsin but hopefully also inspire future Olympians.
“To now see the Ariens family producing and creating a venue that will not only introduce kids to the sport of biathlon and cross-country skiing but to also have an opportunity to train at a really high level, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more Olympians come from this part of the country,” Schommer said.
The facility is expected to open in December 2022. To learn more you can visit ariensnordic.com