April 27, 2022
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
BRILLION - Dan Ariens says that a community can be grown by building events and spaces for that community.
Few events or spaces could be as transformative for Brillion as the new Ariens Nordic Center, near Round Lake Farms.
Ariens told The Brillion News it was important to find something unique for Brillion.
"We have the other trails between our paths west of town, and having trail in mind, we thought, well, what's the premium level of that? And it's the Nordic Trail," Ariens said.
The company hosted a kickoff event on Wednesday for the venue that will open in December.
The venue includes a 20-point biathlon range, nearly five miles for cross country skiing and snowmaking, a paved loop for roller-skiing, hiking, running, snowshoeing and more, including a summer beach.
The space will be one of only three biathlon trails in the country. Ariens Company became a main sponsor for the United States Biathlon team in 2019. It has been an Olympic sport since 1960. It combines cross country skiing and rifle marksmanship into one race.
The venue will have space for biathlon race distances from 1,000 to 4,000 meters, cross country skiing race distances from 1,500 to 5,000 meters, para-biathlon and cross country ski races from 800 to 1,200 meters, and cross country running and trail run racing options.
The trail will include up to nine different loops.
"You can do different types of courses and have lots of different events ... I thought it was going to be a big loop. There's a lot of loops and a lot of undulation. The way they laid out ... It's really going to be spectacular," Ariens said.
The ultimate goal is to bring national championship events to Brillion, but it will be for much more than that. Ariens said the venue will be open year-round and include recreational use with the community.
"We have the lake out in the middle of this that's basically our reservoir for the snow-making. We've got beach there, so we see this active middle of the summer, all the time - bike rides, family day, hanging out at the beach, take a bike ride, take a dip, cool off," Ariens said.
The trail course designed by Morton Trails covers more than 200 acres of rolling hills.
John M. Morton attended Wednesday's kickoff and was emotional. Morton is the founder of Morton Trails and has designed Nordic skiing, biking, running, hiking, equestrian and shared use trails for 25 years.
"This is going to be really, really sweet for this community and this region," Morton said.
Morton participated in seven Winter Olympic Games as an athlete in 1972 and 1976.
U.S. Biathlon President and CEO Max Cobb and Olympians Paul Schommer and Deedra Irwin attended Wednesday's event.
Schommer is from Appleton and went to Kimberly High School. Irwin is from Pulaski and attended Pulaski High School.
Both agreed how special having a biathlon trail in the Midwest is and how it would have changed their training in years past had they a place so close to home.
"To now see the Ariens family producing and creating a venue that will only introduce kids to the sport of biathlon and cross country skiing but also have an opportunity to train at a really high level, it's really, really cool and I think we're hopefully going to see a more Olympians come from this part of the country in years to come," Schommer said.
"It takes a lot of people to build a dream like this and Ariens has done an amazing job in the community. Everyone's supported the project. It's super cool to be a part of it," Irwin said.
For Ariens, it's the latest project in the Brillion area, and perhaps his biggest ever.
"This might be my craziest and maybe most inspirational and maybe most exciting project," Ariens said. "We're doing a lot of things ... in the city with the Iron Works. I really want to see that come to life, and it will pretty soon. Then out here, the Nordic Center, I think, almost on a global scale, this is something that is like no other, and that's why I think it's so exciting."
More information is available at ariensnordic.com.