News » Whistler

2010 ski jumping legacy called into question

CSSA challenging VANOC, CODA to fulfil promises


P>By Andrew Mitchell

The Canadian Ski and Snowboard Association, a federation of nine Canadian snow sports, is planning to fight the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee and Calgary Olympic Development Association over their independent plans to scrap Olympic ski jumping legacies.

"Here we are having an Olympics in our own country with an opportunity to upgrade the sport considerably, and we’re in danger, real danger, of not having any Canadians qualify to compete for 2010 in ski jumping," said David Pym, the managing director of the CSSA.

"With CODA pulling the plug, (athletes) can’t train, and with VANOC not supplying anything for training or summer jumping, what are they going to do?"

The CSSA board has resolved to oppose any attempts to shut down the Canada Olympic Park ski jump facilities in Calgary, to convince VANOC to honour its legacy promises and make the Whistler facility permanent, and to mobilize funding partners to get together and work out a solution to benefit Ski Jumping Canada and Nordic Combined Canada, which also uses the jumps.

According to Pym, the ski jumping facilities proposed for the Callaghan Valley through the Whistler Nordic Centre, will only be open two years previous to the Games, and will shut down after the Games in 2010. Furthermore, the facility planned for Whistler will not be able to be used for summer training, and will only meet Olympic competition demands with two jumps.

By way of comparison the Calgary facility, which will be closed at the end of the season, has seven jumps – two competition hills and five training and development hills.

"It goes against (VANOC)’s operating principles and legacy promises," said Pym. "Quite frankly it’s also foreign to any other organizing committee’s plans in recent years."

According to VANOC spokesman Sam Corea, the final decision on what to do with the ski jumping facilities will be made in the next few months, prior to construction.

"That needs to be determined, how exactly it’s going to unfold," said Corea. "As far as the building of the ski jumps, they will be built to Olympic requirements… and to have them open two years before the Games.

"That particular sport, you have to see it in the long-term, from who is going to decide to operate and fund such a facility, if there is no funding and no mechanism to keep it going beyond the Games."

Whether the Callaghan ski jumping facility will be permanent or temporary will ultimately decide how it is built, Corea says, and that’s what needs to be decided before construction begins in the spring. Without long-term funding for the sport and the facility, it may be a temporary legacy.

According to Pym, ski jumping facilities in the past three Winter Olympic cities, Lillehammer, Nagano and Park City, are still in operation.

"There have been meetings that have taken place between Ski Jumping (Canada) and Nordic Combined (Canada) and VANOC," added Pym. "The VANOC position is that there’s no justification for the cost of keeping the facility open. They consider the ski jumping facility to be too small."

According to Vancouver’s bid book, construction of the proposed Nordic Centre will cost almost $102 million, with a scheduled completion date of June, 2007. Legacy funds are intended to cover the operation costs of those facilities after the Games. The bid also made a commitment to enhance sport development and to create venues that are capable of hosting World Cup events before and after the Games.

According to Pym, VANOC likely made its decision under the impression that the Calgary facility would still be in operation. Similarly, he says that CODA likely assumed, when they announced an end of funding at the end of this season, that the Whistler facility would become the new centre for Ski Jumping Canada and Nordic Combined Canada.

The CSSA is hoping to address the VANOC board of directors at their next meeting on Jan. 19 and will present a business plan to VANOC regarding the Whistler facility. In addition the CSSA is talking to the new federal Secretary of State for Sport, hoping to exert pressure on CODA to continue to fund the Calgary facility, thereby meeting the legacy commitments they made to the federal government when they received the Canada Olympic Park for $1 prior to the 1988 Winter Games.

"We consider CODA’s position to be in violation of the legacy agreement," said Pym, who said there was a risk that Canada’s ski jumping program could fold after being in operation since 1924.