PORTLAND — Former Boston Bruins star Ray Bourque twisted his right foot in the dirt around home plate at Hadlock Field Wednesday morning as if he were preparing to take a few swings.

Instead, he turned to a lectern and spoke of biathlon, not a marriage of hockey and baseball, but of rifle marksmanship and cross country skiing.

Bourque announced a partnership between his Celebrities for Charity Foundation and the Portland Sea Dogs to raise money for the U.S. Biathlon Foundation.

Biathlon is the one Winter Olympics sport, Bourque noted, in which the United States has never won a medal.

“We want to change that,” said Bourque, who was introduced to biathlon at a fundraising golf tournament in Falmouth a few years ago.

Andy Shepard, vice chairman of the U.S. Biathlon Foundation and president and CEO of the Maine Winter Sports Center, said countries such as Germany, Russia and Norway spend 10 times as much as the U.S. on their biathlon programs.

In order to compete on something approaching equal footing, Shepard said, the biathlon foundation hopes to raise $1 million a year over and above the funding provided by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Thus, a raffle.

The prize? A Sea Dogs experience, is how Geoff Iacuessa, the team’s general manager, described a package that includes signing a one-day contract with the team, a personalized Sea Dogs jersey and baseball card, six box seats to the Aug. 22 game against Harrisburg, a behind-the-scenes tour of Hadlock for six people and designation of a batboy/batgirl between the ages of 8 and 18 for that game.

Interested fans can enter through a website set up by Bourque’s foundation: netRaffle.org. Tickets are $2 each with a minimum purchase of five tickets and discounts for purchases of 10 or more.

“It’s the experience of a lifetime,” said Cleon Daskalakis, a former Bruins and Boston University goaltender who founded Celebrities for Charity. “You can buy as many tickets as you like.”

Bill Burke, chairman of the Sea Dogs, is a trustee of the U.S. Biathlon Foundation, as are former TD Bank chairman Bill Ryan, Unum President Tom Watjen, WellPoint CEO Angela Braly, Bourque and Shepard, among others.

“This is the first of many different raffles to come,” said Bourque, who hinted a Bruins package could be in the offing.

Athletes connected with the Maine Winter Sports Center made up seven of the 10 U.S. Olympic biathletes in 2006 and six of the nine in 2010.

“While I’m really proud of that,” Shepard said, increased funding would allow for taking the MWSC model and spreading it across the nation to establish training centers in Alaska, Minnesota, Utah, Colorado and perhaps a few other states.

Such centers would not have the world-class venues built in Fort Kent and Presque Isle, Shepard said, but they could include a lodge, training loops and, most importantly, a qualified coach.

The deadline for entering the Sea Dogs raffle is Aug. 19.

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:
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Twitter: GlennJordanPPH