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Ski jumpers dispute CODA’s funding claims

Calgary ski jump facility may be closed, even as jumpers gain international standing



It takes a top-30 result in a Continental Cup ski jumping competition to earn a quota spot in the Olympic Winter Games.

It’s tougher than it sounds for Canada, which hasn’t qualified a ski jumper since our lone qualifier finished dead last at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France.

In recent years, however, the sport is seeing a revival at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, especially with Canada hosting the Winter Games in 2010. At a recent Continental Cup contest in Finland, Canadians Gregory Baxter and Graeme Gorham were 13 th and 14 th in training, and Baxter just missed the top 30 in the actual competition. Stefan Read, 17, finished 27 th at a Continental Cup in Lahti, Finland, meeting the IOC criteria for the 2006 Olympics. All he needs now is another top-30 in a Continental Cup, World Cup or World Championship event to meet the Canadian Olympic Committee and Ski Jumping Canada standard to go to Torino.

Brent Morrice, the chairman for Ski Jumping Canada, said the athletes are still young, and that SJC is focused on getting into the 2010 Games in Vancouver and Whistler. However, he says they will need funding to do that, and after March Ski Jumping Canada and Nordic Combined Canada will no longer be receiving any financial support from the Calgary Olympic Development Association.

"Put it this way, they’ve pulled the plug on our funding… that was our life support system and they’ve pulled the plug," said Morrice. "And that’s fine – Ski Jumping Canada and Nordic Combined Canada will exist as long as they don’t pull the plug on the facilities. If they close the facility after they pull the plug on our funding, that’s like getting on the bed and choking us to death."

Ski Jumping Canada and Nordic Combined Canada currently receive $150,000 in funding each year from CODA, which covers administrative costs, coaching, and some support for athletes’ travel and training costs. CODA also funds the ski jumping centre in Canada Olympic Park, a legacy from the 1988 Winter Games. According to CODA, it costs about $450,000 a year to run the jumps.

Morrice has asked to see CODA’s books to find out what the exact costs of running the facility are and to see whether SJC and NCC could come up with the funding themselves.

"We don’t know where they came up with the $400,000 in operational costs for those facilities, we can’t imagine that," said Morrice. "There’s snowmaking and running a (snow) cat up and down the hill, but they would have to do that anyway. We need a breakdown of those costs, because one thing we could do is to run the facilities for ourselves, renting the cat time and snowmaking facilities from them. These are the different options we need to look into."

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