With the opening ceremonies for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games just over 13 months away, the federal government is sending a message that Canada is serious about repeating its feat from the 2010 Games where athletes earned 14 gold medals and placed third overall for total medals won.
On Thursday, Jan. 24, the Harper Government announced a new Sport Support Program, providing additional funding to 11 national sport organizations: alpine skiing, biathlon, the sliding sports (bobsleigh and skeleton, and luge), cross-country skiing, curling figure skating, freestyle skiing, hockey, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating.
"Canadians love hearing our national anthem and seeing the Canadian flag raised above the podium," said Anne Merklinger, CEO of Own the Podium. "Thanks to the leadership of the Government of Canada, this is the largest investment ever for Canada's winter sport athletes heading into the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"Our primary goal over the next year is to ensure all medal-targeted national sport organizations and athletes have complete access to the resources they require to be fully prepared to achieve Canada's performance goals and, in turn, give the country more opportunities to see its flag raised above the podiums in Sochi."
The Government of Canada is providing $31 million for the Sport Support Program, which works out to just under $3 million per national sports organizations - although the funds will be directed according to medal chances, which is based on things like World Championship and World Cup results. As well, more than $6.9 million was provide through Sport Canada's Athlete Assistance Program in 2012-2013 to assist winter sports athletes.
That one-time funding announcement is on top of the $21.7 million in Own the Podium funding that will be directed towards winter sports organizations this year alone, and doesn't include funds from private sponsors for individuals and teams.
Own the Podium was created in 2003 after Canada's bid to host the 2010 Games was successful as a way to drive additional funding to sports and athletes and give Canadian athletes an edge at home.