Athletes upset Canada Olympic Park funds diverted from sliding track

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Provincial authorities cash put aside to renovate the sliding observe at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park has been redirected into the park’s business aspect to improve a public day lodge.

The sliding observe that is been the house of nationwide luge, bobsleigh and skeleton athletes for the reason that 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary was closed in 2019 awaiting a $25-million renovation.

The provincial authorities dedicated $10 million and the federal authorities one other $7 million to the renovation prices. WinSport, which oversees the park, needed to provide you with the remaining $8 million.

COP combines public leisure services with high-performance coaching and competitors areas.

Alberta’s authorities introduced this week a dedication of $17.5 million — matched by the federal authorities — towards a renovation of the day lodge on the base of the ski slopes that can value between $39 million and $43 million.

WinSport confirmed $10 million of the provincial funds got here from cash initially earmarked for the sliding observe.

“With the time-frame to make use of the $10 million from the Authorities of Alberta set to run out, there was no prospect of securing the funding and finishing the venture within the required time-frame,” WinSport president and CEO Barry Heck mentioned Thursday in a press release.

“In an effort to maintain the funds for capital tasks at COP, we labored with the Authorities of Alberta to reallocate the $10 million to the day lodge venture, WinSport’s highest capital precedence, as a substitute of requiring us to return the funds.”

The Frank King Day Lodge at Canada Olympic Park opened in 1987. It is getting a significant improve that can value as much as $43 million. (Google Maps)

Canadians have gained 13 Olympic medals in sliding sports activities since 1988, together with six gold. Justin Kripps piloted Canada to two-man bobsled gold in 2018 and four-man bronze this yr in Beijing.

Alex Gough, who earned Canada’s first Olympic medal in luge in 2018 and is now Luge Canada’s president, was dismayed on the redirection of cash away from the observe with out discover from WinSport.

“Nobody from WinSport even had the decency to achieve out and talk about this with the sliding sports activities,” Gough mentioned.

“I’ve a tough time believing that the chief and the board at WinSport have one of the best pursuits of the sliding neighborhood at coronary heart.

“We do not really feel the management at WinSport has made an actual effort to keep up the legacy that the ’88 Video games have introduced. We hope they will discover it in them to be motivated to essentially uphold that mandate of defending and preserving that legacy.”

Observe value $18.8M forward of the ’88 Video games

In line with WinSport archives, the price to construct the observe for 1988 was $18.8 million.

An higher portion of the 36-year-old sliding observe, which wants a brand new refrigeration unit, has been eliminated.

The observe is adjoining to an ice home, the place sliders practise their begins, and a high-performance coaching centre. Each had been constructed after 1988 to boost the Olympic legacy.

Heck insists the observe venture stays on WinSport’s record of capital tasks.

“Our capital tasks are prioritized, and the day lodge has lengthy been our No. 1 precedence,” he mentioned within the assertion.

“The day lodge is crucial to WinSport’s year-round operations and the longer term viability and sustainability of COP, affecting
a whole lot of 1000’s of annual customers and friends, together with athletes of all ages and skills.

“Whereas we respect that that is tough information for the sliding sports activities neighborhood, we’re grateful that the Authorities of Alberta agreed to reallocate this cash to serve a whole lot of 1000’s of athletes and the neighborhood, as a substitute of requiring us to return it.”

Calgary’s sliding observe is the one one on the planet located inside a big city centre. The sliding observe in Whistler, B.C., used for the 2010 Winter Olympics, is in a ski resort.

“We’ll proceed to do what we’re doing and produce aggressive athletes,” Gough mentioned. “It is affected grassroots packages right here in Alberta and in Calgary significantly.

“It actually impacts the way forward for sliding sport in Canada.”

Calgary’s sliding observe was a daily cease on the worldwide World Cup circuit for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton. The final World Cup races there have been in 2019.

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