November 28, 2023

Dedication to Your Sport Ensures Its Longevity

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It was only 4 degrees above zero, Fahrenheit, biathletes from across the U.S. were competing in their sport – cross country ski racing in combination with precision target shooting. The chill was enough to make any grown man run for the warmth and comfort of the lodge but not so for Ralph Ostlund of New Sweden, Maine.

At age 82, Ostlund, a longtime cross country skier himself, braved the cold and positioned himself near the shooting venue and the finish line to applaud and cheer on every competitor. He had no one favorite – they were all his favorites because they were doing what he loved.

Fort Kent, Maine has been host to the U.S. Olympic Trials for Biathlon. Teams chosen from these races will travel to Torino, Italy to compete in the Olympics later this winter. The weather at the 10th Mountain Division Center has been less than cooperative with nearly no snow to start, followed by a blizzard of 42 inches of snow, freezing rain, warmth, cold, more snow – it’s been incredible.

Ostlund though, didn’t care. He did what he wanted to do and that was be witness to the event and cheer on the faithful. I myself, was a cross country skier, winning Maine State titles in 1969 and 1970 and like Ostland, I know how at times the sport can be lonely. But there is nothing more comforting than to appear from the dense forest, spent from giving the race your all and being greeted by dedicated spectators.

Many things that we do in life, become tradition. Cross country skiing and in particular biathlon is not something millions of people in the U.S. do, but those that do are lifelong participants and they work to guarantee its continuation from one generation to the next – just as Ralph Ostlund was doing in Fort Kent.

We all have something to contribute to our sport. We give what we can and it is our love of it that will ensure it will be there for our kids and grand kids.

Find your passion and get involved. If it’s hunting or fishing you enjoy, do what you can to make it the best it can be and give back to something that gives so much to you.

Tom Remington