Despite strong results on the World Cup circuit the snowboard season ended on a bitter note for the Canadian team with a controversy over the decision to fire the snowboardcross team coach, and members of the national alpine and halfpipe teams paying most of their own travel and competition costs over the season.
Tom McIllfaterick, president of the Canadian Snowboard Federation (CSF), acknowledged that the organization was struggling with the loss of sponsors — including title sponsor Honda — but said that things would improve for the upcoming season with the addition of new sponsors.
“Honda was a major sponsor, and they were involved in events as well as supporting the national team,” he said. “It always hurts when you’re trying to make up for losing a major sponsor.”
Recently the CSF signed two new sponsors through 2010. LG Electronics Canada, which recently took over from Nokia as the title sponsor for the FIS World Cup, has become a title sponsor for the national team. Lang Michener LLP, a Canadian law firm, also entered into a three year sponsorship to support the team and snowboard events across Canada.
While finding new sponsors was an important step for the team — and McIllfaterick expects to be able to announce additional team sponsors in the coming weeks — he said the team is also looking at how resources are being spent.
“The other issue was budgeting,” he said. “It was a very long year, with a very long World Cup tour and when we allocated some of that money our first priority was not travel to competitions, our first priority was coaching. Beyond that was support for training, beyond that was the other sport services that athletes need to be at the top of competitions — wax and snowboard technicians, physiotherapists, sport psychologists. After covering those costs there was a little less money to go around.”
The team also made a decision to reward results, and plans to continue that approach next season.
“Telus put together a generous bonus plan for athletes on the podium which was $50,000 — above and beyond their contract — and LG made available $10,000 prizes at the national championships. That’s a significant bonus for those with medal results that are already in the system, but in terms of funding as we move forward there will be more emphasis on those (athletes) producing at the podium level.”
The CSF is in the process of reviewing the entire structure of its high performance program to plan for next season. In that context, McIllfaterick admits that the decision of head coach Jim Miller to terminate the contract of snowboardcross coach Rene Brunner over differences in their vision for the team was timed poorly.