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Skiercross wins IOC approval

VANOC to make final decision over whether to include sport in 2010

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By Andrew Mitchell

Whistler’s Ashleigh McIvor is closer than ever to her dream of competing for Canada in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

On Tuesday the International Olympic Committee’s executive board reviewed several proposals for new Olympic sports, turning all of them down with the exception of skiercross. Already a World Cup and World Championship event, its inclusion into the freestyle schedule was considered a sure thing given the popularity of snowboardcross, which made its Olympic debut in 2006.

Whether the sport of skiercross will be included in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games is yet to be determined, with the Vancouver Organizing Committee making the final decision.

According to Cathy Priestner Allinger, the executive vice president of sport, Paralympic Games and venue management for VANOC, the sport is a good fit for the Games if the logistics make sense.

“We need to look at what sort of impact (skiercross) would have on the competition schedule and the venues, and the need to pre-set snow days as a contingency, and we’re working with the International Ski Federation to make sure the schedule works,” she said.

“There are also discussions of quotas at IOC and FIS that may have some impact on this. Operationally there’s very little impact for us, we’ve already determined that skiercross would take place on the same course as the snowboardcross with a few minor tweaks, moving snow around and that kind of thing.”

VANOC will also have to provide housing for 32 qualified men, 16 qualified women, and various coaches and officials — a total of 100 extra bodies. Because the snowboardcross course is being built at Cypress Mountain, additional beds may have to be added to Vancouver athletes’ village — something Priestner Allinger thinks is possible at this stage.

“There’s more flexibility with the Vancouver village than with the village in Whistler where the numbers are more limited,” said Priestner Allinger. As well, ticket sales for the event should more than cover any additional costs of keeping the snowboardcross course open for skiers.

The fact that Canadian skiers have always done well in the sport at the international level is also being taken into account.

“We’ve done our homework on this already, and we’ve already indicated our position prior to the IOC decision,” said Priestner Alligner. “Now we have to work with FIS and the IOC to make sure it has a minimal financial and operational impact. I’m sure we can do it, but we need to sit down and work it through.”

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