Cable, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) - 2 PM, Sunday—at the Telemark Resort in Cable, WI—and the men's and women's biathlon is officially underway.
After each completed lap, athletes—most with prosthetic limbs—have to hit the ground, rifle in hand, and take aim.
And why is aim such an important factor?
For every shot that the athletes miss, they have to add one lap—roughly 25 seconds—to their overall time, bringing a whole new meaning to making every shot count.
"Luckily for the US today we had a good shooting day. The guys really settled down and corrected some challenges from yesterday. But you don't want to add any more meters than you have to on a day like today, especially when it's cold," said John Farra, High Performance Director for the US Paralympic team.
Farra praised the resort, calling it an ideal location for such a worldly community.
"To have the nations all staying in one house and be able to eat their meals together and socialize together has really been another piece that's important," said Farra.
...another aspect that's made this IPC event so successful?
According to Farra, the overwhelming support of the Cable community: "We make a phone call, and in a matter of—and sometimes shockingly—just a few minutes, the folks in this community have stepped up to really help our team, and I know they've helped other teams, as well."
Chairman of Competition and local Rick Carpenter—who helped construct a majority of the course, like these distance markers, or 'range soldiers'—said his work began months ago, when people discovered he could build things.
"Because I didn't know what a range soldier was. 'What is a range soldier?' But, when they said, 'can you build range soldiers,' I'm like 'sure,'" said Caqrpenter, laughing.
With no need to worry about course conditions, athletes—like sit–skier Sebastian Fortier, who was paralyzed after an accident in 2003—said they could turn their focus toward leaning from some of the best in the world.
"I can feel my progress in my training by racing with the better athletes in the world. That's hard to race with them, but we can learn," said Fortier, who won 3 gold medals at the 2011 Canada Winter Games.
...or learn from their mistakes, as visually impaired skier Margarita Gorbounova did after her first run—admittedly—had its ups and downs: "I skied really well, didn't shoot quite as well. The first race was a really tough one, so we're not going to go there."
...whether going for the gold, or a personal best, on Sunday the success—and inspiration—was palpable.
After Monday the IPC Nordic World Cup will relocate to Minneapolis, where the remainder of the event is scheduled to last until February third.