Decision 2026: A vision of what we can be.

The decision is upon us. It is now up to Calgarians to decide: do we want to remain in the race for 2026?

Calgary is at a crossroads. The Games of 1988 seem a distant memory. The decision facing our city should be evaluated carefully, understanding not only the bricks and mortar of venues, but perhaps more important – the human resources we have built in our city and region – and where do we see our city and ourselves as citizens headed?

calgaryIt comes as no surprise that Calgarians take this decision seriously. The details presented have been carefully considered. Many harbour concerns about the risk, or are nervous about the economy or question if we are setting our priorities correctly.

We should be challenging our leaders and asking tough questions. A thorough debate and engaged population makes for a stronger community.

The past five years have been tough on our community. We are reminded, daily, of the challenge to get the primary products of the Alberta economy to market.

Now, we have a project that can bring investment into our infrastructure, bolster the markets of tourism and sport, galvanize the spirit of youth, motivate current and aspiring athletes and inspire a nation – and the rest of Canada is cheering us to “go for it”.

It is frustrating to hear the claim about how short term the Games are. As someone who lives on the snow in wintersport, I see throughout the winter how active and widespread winter sport is in Calgary, Canmore and our region. A project like the Games is much more than 50 days in 2026.

Reflect and see what we have built.

Events: Since 1988, Calgary has established a sterling reputation as a host of annual World Cup events in speed skating (long and short), bobsleigh, luge, skeleton, alpine ski, cross country, biathlon, freestyle, ski cross, snowboard – 12 World Cup events every year pass through our region.

KarenPercyVenues: The investment into the sport venues is to refurbish. These venues are not derelict. Our community actively use them throughout the winter, from recreational participants to developing athletes to our best who aim to compete at the highest levels.

The Canadian Alpine Ski Team is currently training at Nakiska, preparing for the first downhill of the World Cup season. Our speed skaters just competed in the Short Track World Cup at the Olympic Oval, which is also a vibrant venue at the University of Calgary. December finds World Cup events on the sliding track at COP and come January, attention turns to the Freestyle World Cup, staged on one of the best mogul runs in the world. This year will see the return of the Biathlon World Cup to the Canmore Nordic Centre.

The continuous use of our 1988 sport venues has ensured they meet current international sport standards. Winning a Games bid ensures these venues are revitalized to remain current for the next 40 years.

Athletes: A successful bid turns the World Cup events into test events for the Games. They bring training opportunities, tourism impact and chance to give our current National Team athletes a “home court” advantage. And it inspires the future – young athletes who have access to world-class facilities – to dream of representing their country at the highest levels.

Our success internationally, where Canada hits well above our weight in results in World Cups, World Championships and the Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games is a direct legacy of 1988. The pathway to success has been built through Calgary.

History: In 1980, in the heat of the bidding battle for the 1988 Games, Calgary was offered the opportunity to host the final World Cup ski race, which had been cancelled earlier in the season. A bold group, inspired by Frank King and led by a small but keen group in the ski community, said “why not us?” With no race committee, no safety equipment, no sponsor, no TV –they boldly accepted this challenge with only 4 weeks to organize the event. Lake Louise now ranks second in the world for number of World Cup races staged.

Volunteers: One of the many volunteers for the 1980 race was Rob Imbrogno, who brought his skill set from Telus (then AGT) to set up the communications network. That inaugural World Cup downhill started a thirty-nine year journey. Rob has volunteered for every FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Alberta, worked both 1988 and 2010 Games and also volunteered overseas at World Ski Championships. Rob, does not own a pair of skis. Rob does not ski. But he is passionately committed to imparting his knowledge and leadership skills to run great World Cup races and giving Canadian athletes the best possible opportunity to race at home.

There are hundreds volunteers just like Rob who have faithfully supported our athletes and events as officials, gate keepers, starters, timers, race area maintenance, the essential army of volunteers that make our annual World Cup events such a success. This dedicated crew emerged as we hosted the pre-Games test events before 1988. They were the backbone of the ‘88 Games and have continued to be the core of our event organizing committees since. We now need a knowledge transfer to a new generation of volunteers who would run the Games of 2026 and 30 years beyond.

Employment: We can debate economic impact, but there is no arguing with the jobs based in Calgary with the National Sport Organizations and Canadian Sport Institute which include sport administrators, athletic trainers, physiotherapists, sport physicians, sport psychologists, coaches, nutritionists and more. It is a fact that the 12 annual World Cup events staged in our region have international TV audiences that number into the hundreds of millions of viewers and a ripple economic impact with investment of sponsor dollars which come mostly from Europe.

openingInnovative Ideas: Thanks to our latitude and our climate, winter comes earlier to the Canadian Rockies. Every year, for 30 seasons, Nakiska has hosted Canadians and many other National Teams to train – at a time where only a handful of ski resorts worldwide are even open.

Ever heard of “Frozen Thunder”? This is an innovative project of the Canmore Nordic Centre, WinSport and Cross Country Canada/Biathlon Canada, which stores man-made snow over the summer months, covered by sawdust’ to be spread over a 3-km. track for Canada’s cross country and biathlon teams to start early season training and has evolved to hosting season-opening international competitions.

fullsizeoutput_40fHow much we have changed: I grew up in Calgary. I know what was here as I moved through the athletic pathway to our National Ski Team. It was sparse: my dryland was mostly on the grass of the University of Calgary and wherever I could find a weight room. On-snow, there were no dedicated runs, so we traveled to Europe in the early season every winter. That 1980 World Cup race was my first downhill ever – in Canada, in my seventh year with the National Team.

Now, in addition to the annual World Cup events, eight National Sport Organizations are now headquartered in Calgary and Canmore. The Canadian Sport Institute – Calgary trains most of Canada’s winter athletes. We have the world-renowned Human Performance Lab based at the University of Calgary. Own the Podium winter office is based at WinSport. This is a thriving sport industry that did not exist in Calgary in 1988.

Leadership in Tourism: Some argue we don’t need to revisit our past glory. That we have the Calgary Stampede and the line-up of World Cup events will continue. So why take the risk?

But ask the Calgary Stampede why they partner with the World Cup races at Lake Louise and have already endorsed the 2026 Games Bid. The leadership of our widely respected summer festival knows partnering with winter events with a large international following and that share similar values and tourism markets is how to build a brand and a reputation.

It’s good for business, it’s good for tourism, it’s good for Calgary and it is exceptionally good for our community spirit.

The distemper of our times is to distrust politicians and international elites. If we look closely enough, we will always find shadows in any project or initiative.

Pride in what we have done to change the world, a vision of what we can be: I prefer to see our community positively, to think of Calgary and Canmore as leaders in our global community. To continue to build on the enormously positive example our city and region launched to the world 30 years ago. In 1988, we changed the Winter Games, forever and we can do it again in 2026. We can be pro-active and challenge the status quo. We can set an example through our integrity, hard work, spirit and innovative ideas. We can set the bar high and work relentlessly for clean sport, sustainable Games, accountability in sport and to be athlete-focused.

I hope we see this as a choice for the future. To be leaders in sport and in our global community, where we can influence change.

We can, but only if we stay in the competition to host 2026.

Only if we vote YES for 2026.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Louise Knight: Honoured Ski Team Alumni

A Canadian Champion and World Cup athlete, who now brings her passion for ski racing to the next generation

CRSRHOF-2018-thumbnailHer record is one of accomplishment. Louise Knight, our Honoured Ski Team alumni, scored her first national title cheered on by her family. That gold from the 1979 Canadian Juvenile Championships launched a career that added medal performances at the Canadian Juniors and Seniors, the Pontiac Cup and capturing the overall title in the Alberta Cup. These solid credentials earned her a spot as a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, where she raced on the Europa Cup and World Cup Tours.

Like many talented athletes in alpine skiing, Louise’s results earned an NCAA ski scholarship, allowing her to compete in NCAA skiing for New Mexico, before completing her Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from the University of Alberta.

Louise says she didn’t come from a ski family, but once she was introduced to skiing and ski racing, she was hooked. “I started skiing at the age of 6 with my Dad and older brother, Terry,” said our Honoured Inductee. “At the age of 8, I was invited to race in the final Nancy Green ski race of the season at Marmot Basin.  I had never ski raced before and was ecstatic to be on the winning Jasper team! From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a ski racer.”

That passion translated quickly into a dedicated work ethic. “I dreamed of being an Olympian,” said Louise. “I was talented, determined, and confident and truly loved everything about skiing and ski racing; training gates, doing drills, powder skiing, mogul skiing, spring skiing…”

fullsizeoutput_784After university and establishing a career, it was her young family that brought Louise back to ski racing. “Although ski racing was my passion, I did not push my children to become ski racers. Admittedly, I was quite relieved when my oldest son, Jesse, wanted to join the Nancy Green Ski League in Grade 3. This started a whole new chapter for our family, which I never thought would lead to another go around with the Jasper Ski Team!’

Like so many parents, Louise found a way to give more. “My motivation to Coach came from both of my children, who found that racing was simply not as fun, or as rewarding as “the park” or free skiing. They were frustrated with their results, and like many kids, they found Provincial races far too stressful and competitive. It became my mission to make Jasper a more competitive, informed, fun-filled club. I drew on my past experiences and challenges as a ski racer and mentored under Gilbert Wall and Brent Shleppe to help re-shape the Jasper Ski Team to what it is today.”

Coach Brent Schleppe and Jasper U16's 2018And she shares a pivotal moment in her coaching career. “If it wasn’t for Jesse’s 10th place ribbon at the JJO’s when he was 9, I am not sure he would have carried on, Says Louise. “I am therefore a fan of top ten ribbons in all Nancy Green Events!! You never know who might continue racing because of that ribbon!”

Coaching my 1st JST group!Coaching has brought many new highlights as her children and their teammates progressed up the athlete development pathway. “I had always dreamed of winning Olympic Gold, and although I never did, it was great to watch my U12 team sweep the podium at the Jasper Junior Olympics a few years back!” says Louise. “And my proudest moment as a Coach was witnessing our entire Jasper U16 Men’s team qualify for the U16 Canadian Nationals last year, along with my Jasper U14 Team winning a Silver medal at the Alberta Winter Games.”

“It’s the athletes that I work with that bring me the greatest joy!” says Louise. “I support and encourage all athletes regardless of Club, and I strongly believe the Ski Racing Community should always be aware of the influence we have on young athletes. It truly is our job to provide a challenging, supportive and positive experience for all of our ski racers.” Louise recognizes her mentors, Gilbert Wall, Brent Schleppe and all of the coaches she works with, for their support and encouragement. And of course, my older brother Terry, who introduced to me to skiing, my parents and sister who try to never miss a Jasper Race, my patient husband Mike and my 2 most challenging athletes, Jesse and Jake.”

Winning the Alberta Cup“Ski Racing has been the foundation for my entire life” continues Louise. “It brought me true joy as a young person. It taught me the virtues of hard work and commitment as an adolescent, which led to my NCAA Scholarship and Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy. However, most importantly it has allowed me to share my experience and experiences with many young skiers in Jasper, and throughout Alberta, which hopefully will help them achieve their goals as ski racers.”

The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame and Alberta Alpine are pleased to recognize Louise Knight, our 2018 Honoured Alberta and Canadian Ski Team Alumni, for her excellence in representing our country and her dedication as a coach to sharing her passion for our sport with the next generation of athletes.

The 2018 Class will be inducted at the Highest Peak Gala, hosted at the Hotel Arts in Calgary on Tuesday, October 30th. This event was first held in 1968, to support ski racing excellence in Alberta and western Canada. The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame event is a legacy event with the goal to support future champions in the province, with all proceeds invested into Alberta Ski Racing programs.

Original Post: http://albertaalpine.ca/2018/10/25/louise-knight-alumni/

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mark Bowman: Ski Racing Hall of Fame Honoured Lifetime Official

A dedicated master of timing, whose passion for ski racing ensures our events run smoothly and fairly

CRSRHOF-2018-thumbnailSkiing and ski racing are a life-long passion for our Honoured Lifetime Volunteer, Mark Bowman. “I was around 13 years old and had been skiing since I was 6 but had never been racing or coached, when family friend Joe Irwin (2013 Honoured Builder) encouraged my Dad, Murray, to enrol me in the Lake Louise Ski Club” recalled our Honoured Volunteer. Under the watchful eye of Mike Wiegele (2015 Honoured Builder), his brother Norbert and Andre Schwartz, Mark honed his ski racing skills alongside teammate Mike Irwin (2015 Honoured AST alumni) to be named to the Alberta Ski Team four years later.

Ski racing is core to the Bowman family. Mark had the opportunity to race across Canada in Nor-Am, Pontiac Cup and in Canadian Championships, an experience he shared with his wife, Pamela and daughter Rachel. “I’m proud that both myself and my daughter Rachel raced in the Pontiac Cup Series – one of Canada’s longest-ever running title sponsor race series.”

Following his post-competitive student days at the University of Calgary, it was the first World Cup downhill to be staged in Canada at Lake Louise in 1980 that brought Mark back into the ski racing community. This landmark event and the 1988 Olympic Games found him back onto the track on race crews. “In 1988, I was praying my assigned slalom poles would stay in place during the last 3 racers of the men’s 2nd SL run which was won by Alberto Tomba.”

Mark’s commitment to ski racing really ramped up in the usual manner of ski families. Both Mark and Pamela began to volunteer at events with the Banff Alpine Racers in support of their daughter Rachel. But a nagging hip injury led to a life-altering change of focus. ‘It was Bill Irwin who suggested “if I could ‘hobble over to the finish line they could probably use a hand with some timing stuff’.  I didn’t see it coming – and fell for it hook, line and sinker.  I had no idea how the timing systems worked and it appealed to my curiosity and interest in technology, plus I understood how critical it is to have reliable results with no delays. Nobody wants timing to be the reason the awards are delayed.”

He quickly progressed to becoming the “timing guru” for the club, which of course led to assignments across western Canada for FIS, Nor-Am and Canadian Championship events. He was welcomed into the elite level by the late Dick Beare (2016 Honoured Official) and retired Canadian TD Commissioner Ted Savage and partner James Broder who headed up the Winterstart World Cup timing crew at Lake Louise. He also served at other Canadian World Cup venues including Sunshine, Panorama and Whistler.

Timing and volunteering are a valued skill set that has proved invaluable beyond the ski slopes. Mark joined the Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon timing team in 2007.  “I jumped at the chance and within 4 years became the Manager of Timing and Data Operations, which continues to be rewarding through all the acquaintances and genuine friends I have met within the Stampede and also from the 2 other chuckwagon associations.”

Timing is essential to ski racing and the complexity of setting up precision systems on the side of a mountain can come with many stories. “I think it was a fear of failure that led me to setting up all the timing gear each fall” shared Mark. “Testing all the equipment and scenarios I could envision happening on the race course”  – I enlisted Rachel and her kittens to run through the finish eyes randomly to simulate false finishes and overtakes.” Everything from avalanches wiping out starts, sewage leaks in timing rooms and power supplies catching on fire in the timing hut, our Honoured Volunteer has seen it all.

“Volunteering is selfless and brings surprising rewards that you cannot ever imagine, says our Honoured Volunteer. “My father was involved with timing at the Lake Louise Ski Club. My mother was the Race Secretary – and my sister Cindy got dragged into it as well that launched her into working for the 1988 Olympic Organizing Committee. I can’t think of any time in my life that my father wasn’t an active volunteer, and his motto was ‘volunteering is the price you pay to be a full member of that community’. I still volunteer at a number of races each year as it is important to give back to the sport and local clubs and to help train others newer to race timing. It is always great to contribute to the success of a race and I have met many other racer parent volunteers that have become good friends.

Those close friends include fellow dedicated timers Rob Twitchen and Faron Roth with Banff Alpine “we worked totally in synch and would not let each other fail” to Dick Beare and Dave Bartle “The best and most dedicated Alberta Timers” to Bill and Mike Irwin for getting and keeping me involved in timing “How many times did I hear – ‘Hey Bow, we are running this little race next month and could use a timer…” to Darrell MacLachlan “for his unwavering commitment to the program and to excellence”. And on the snow with Mike Wiegele, Andre Schwartz, Mike Irwin, Ken Read “for their expertise, support and drive to improve.”

“I still volunteer at ski races because I like to support the current ROC’s running races, but mainly because I enjoy the friendship and camaraderie developed with other volunteers who have become lifelong friends,” says Mark. “Whether in my business environment or the numerous competitive sports I still participate in, when the pressure is on, I can draw from the experience gained while racing at the levels I achieved. Racing and staying active in skiing not only keeps you fit and outdoors, it connects you to other like-minded people where bonds are formed for life. I met my wife Pamela as a direct result of the racing community, even though she raced and coached in Ontario. Now my daughter Rachel is engaged to Scott Lamacchia whom she met through ski racing about 10 years ago.  Like our Bowman family the Lamacchia family grew up with a similar active outdoor mindset and now they too are set for life – How great is that!”

The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame and Alberta Alpine are pleased to recognize Mark Bowman, our 2018 Honoured Volunteer, whose passion for ski racing has crossed generations, inspired fellow volunteers and friends and ensured our clubs and race organizers have the essential tools to run accurate, safe and fun events.

The 2018 Class will be inducted at the Highest Peak Gala, hosted at the Hotel Arts in Calgary on Tuesday, October 30th. This event was first held in 1968, to support ski racing excellence in Alberta and western Canada. The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame event is a legacy event with the goal to support future champions in the province, with all proceeds invested into Alberta Ski Racing programs.

Original Posting: http://albertaalpine.ca/2018/10/25/mark-bowman-honoured-lifetime-official/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Doug Savage: Honoured Lifetime Builder

Dedicated to ensuring the ski racing field of play is safe, secure and ready for speed!

CRSRHOF-2018-thumbnailHis life in ski racing has been a living example of ‘pay it forward’. From coaching young skiers with two-time World Champion Lucile Wheeler in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in the 1960’s to managing the extensive hardware needed to stage World Cup races nearly 60 years later, Doug Savage has devoted his life to building ski racing for the young ladies and men that aim to represent Canada.

Doug’s early years in the sport centred around coaching and subsequently providing service to National Team athletes with Atomic and Nordica. In the 1980’s, alongside Gord Reece, Doug helped found the Kananaskis Alpine Racing Team when Nakiska was established.

Like so many in our sport, the 1988 Olympic Winter Games were a memorable highlight. “It was a very special experience working as Assistant Chief of Course for the ladies alpine events in 1988,” said Doug. “It inspired me to continue to support athletes and their ski racing dreams.”

The 1988 Games and securing annual World Cup events at Lake Louise meant Alberta had an enormous inventory of equipment to be used for all levels of events across western Canada. Doug’s post-Olympic involvement in our sport took a unique turn after the Games, managing the growing inventory of equipment necessary to stage safe events in alpine ski racing: “A’ nets, “B” nests, Willy-bags, air fences, crowd control fencing …. with material that runs into thousands of metres and which must be maintained continuously and managed to ensure it is delivered, set up properly, taken down and returned for storage and maintenance. Managing race equipment inventory is not exciting, but it is absolutely essential for our sport.

Doug took on the role of Equipment Manager initially with Alberta Alpine and subsequently with Alpine Canada when the scope of this role grew. Managing safety is much more than ensuring the gear is maintained and kept current. “We worked continuously towards making improvements to equipment to ensure the safety of the athletes,” said Doug. “This involved hundreds of minor innovations and most important, working with individuals and companies to support safe and successful racing”.

“I believe that it is all about the kids and their passion for skiing, continues Doug. “Our job is to support these kids in their development both on and off the ski hill, but most importantly, support their love for the sport.”

Doug would describe his sport pathway as different, perhaps a bit unconventional, but he has no regrets. “Ski racing has been a part of my whole life,” he says. “Ski racing and the amazing people I’ve met through this sport have shaped the person I am today and made me a better person. Ski racing has inspired me. I’m so grateful for this journey.”

There are many who inspired our Honoured Builder in his life-long commitment to our sport. From his father, Alfred Savage, “he always told me if you work hard, do a good job and show respect to everyone, you will be a successful person”, to Ron Allision (father of Canadian Team alumni Bobby Allison) “once you start a job, you finish it. Make a plan and stick with it.” To 2016 Honoured Builder, the late Fred Bosinger “he shared long talks about ski racing, the ski community and life, and I will always be grateful for his support and encouragement”

He is quiet, reliable, focused and enormously committed to athletes, volunteers, officials and coaches who work so hard in our sport. And for Doug Savage, this has been his focus, his passion and his legacy: safe ski racing.

The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame and Alberta Alpine are pleased to recognize Doug Savage, our 2018 Honoured Builder, who has devoted his life to athletes in ski racing to ensure the competitive area of the sport is safe, secure and built so they can focus on skiing fast.

The 2018 Class will be inducted at the Highest Peak Gala, hosted at the Hotel Arts in Calgary on Tuesday, October 30th. This event was first held in 1968, to support ski racing excellence in Alberta and western Canada. The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame event is a legacy event with the goal to support future champions in the province, with all proceeds invested into Alberta Ski Racing programs.

http://albertaalpine.ca/2018/10/18/crsrhof2018-doug-savage-honoured-lifetime-builder/

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rob Imbrogno: Honoured Lifetime Volunteer


October 15, 2018

A dedicated volunteer who is committed to building a legacy of success for Canadian athletes

CRSRHOF-2018-thumbnailNearly fourty years ago, the urgent call went out for volunteers to help stage Canada’s first-ever World Cup downhill at Lake Louise in March/1980. Calgary had just announced the intention to bid for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. The final World Cup of the season in Europe had been cancelled and was awarded to Canada. In a four-week window, it was an opportunity to put the Canadian Rockies on the ski racing map and demonstrate our capacity to host major events.

Rob Imbrogno was one of hundreds of volunteers who responded to the urgent call.

There are very few volunteers in the world that can include 108 World Cup races, 117 Nor-Am races and the full program of the XV Olympic Winter Games on their resume. All launched from a request to build a radio communication network for that inaugural World Cup event.

“I’ve been involved in World Cup and Nor-Am races in so many various capacities over 39 years,” said Rob. “Chief of Radio Communications and Data Services, Executive Director of Infrastructure, Director of Marketing and now Managing Director and CEO for Winterstart Events Ltd. Volunteering has allowed me to see the world through ski racing, get involved with some special events – especially the 1988 Olympics, but most important has been the thrill of watching young Canadian ski racers make the podium at Lake Louise.”

Rob is quick to recognize that it takes a Team to build an annual event that includes five World Cup and five Nor-Am starts. “As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village’, continued Rob. “A village that includes volunteers that really get involved. Individuals that can share their expertise, so that young ski racers can have a future in ski racing. We need to ensure that the dreams of young ski racers are realized.”

“I am grateful to the many key individuals who had confidence in me throughout the time I’ve been involved with the World Cup and ski racing’, said our Honoured Volunteer. “. Leaders including John Cassels (2017 Builder), Darrell MacLauchlan (2014 Builder), Bruce Hamstead and Dave Pym have influenced me in both the sport and business side of ski racing. These amazing individuals have become my friends and mentors.”

His dedication to athletes and the hard work that goes on behind the scene to build an annual World Cup is what motivates Rob and the crew he leads. His message to the athletes who benefit from the volunteers who invest thousands of hours to build the track: “Work hard and take advantage of all the opportunities available to you. Never forget those that have helped you along the way. When you have completed your racing career pay it forward by volunteering or coaching so that you can build a legacy for the next generation to succeed.”

“Ski racing has allowed me to witness history-making events in sport.” And for our Honoured Lifetime Volunteer, 2018 will write another chapter, as the world returns to Lake Louise for another Winterstart World Cup and Calgary is poised to bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

For the record, the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup has been responsible for successfully organizing 108 World Cup starts (72 Ladies races and 36 Men’s races). This is second only to Kitzbuhel, a remarkable achievement for a committed, talented and passionate group of volunteers.”

The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to recognize Rob Imbrogno, our 2018 Honoured Volunteer, a dedicated leader whose four decades of commitment has built this remarkable ski racing legacy at Lake Louise, with a reputation as one of the world’s best sporting events.

The 2018 Class will be inducted at the Highest Peak Gala, hosted at the Hotel Arts in Calgary on Tuesday, October 30th. This event was first held in 1968, to support ski racing excellence in Alberta and western Canada. The Canadian Rockies Ski Racing Hall of Fame event is a legacy event with the goal to support future champions in the province, with all proceeds invested into Alberta Ski Racing programs.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

16 Days of Glory? It’s so much more….

Winter is in the air. Our athletes have been hard at work throughout the spring, summer and autumn months will launch into the next winter campaign in less than 50 days.

In this same time-frame, the people of Calgary and area face a decision on November 13 – with a referendum to determine if we proceed, or not, with a bid for the 2026 Games.

I welcome the Games referendum as it provides us with a clear opportunity to express our views as a community towards the 2026 Games Project.

It is my sincere hope the next few weeks give us all a chance to reflect on where we have come from and where we hope to go. I only ask that the debate be informed, fair and respectful.

To consider the 2026 Games project, may I share a life-long perspective of sport in Calgary and how our city has been transformed.

Nakiska training

Image courtesy Alberta Alpine – Legends Speed Camp at Nakiska

In 1979 when Calgary was first considering a fourth Olympic bid (1964, 1968 and 1972 preceded the 1988 bid), sport opportunities in Calgary and elsewhere in Canada were limited. Hockey, figure skating, alpine and the nordic ski disciplines were the only sports that could be practiced within Canada on local venues. There was no sliding centre, no proper speed oval. Sporting venues capable of providing proper training for athletes at the world level were extremely limited. The experience base of officials and volunteers to support venues and competitions in several sports was scarce.

The opportunity to host the Games – which in 1988 was a 16 day event – did so much more to change our city and our country. The visible legacy are the venues in Calgary, Canmore and area. But the real legacy is in people, in the work they do every day as coaches, trainers, officials, volunteers and in many businesses, organizations and not-for-profit enterprises that have  transformed our city and our region, creating opportunity for youth and attracting world-leading expertise that remains in our country.

Our city – has been transformed. And not by a 16 day event, or even a 50-day event that now includes the Paralympics and Olympics. It is so much more.

This is a journey, one that encompasses clubs, team and competitions at every level long the athlete progression. It includes training 100+ days every year on local facilities for thousands of athletes. It employs coaches, trainers and a range of support staff – from the modest at the club level to the full compliment at the National Team.

Every winter – every winter – for the past 30 years, Calgary and western Canada host more than the equivalent of the Olympic Winter Games. World Cup or major competitions in every sport. These events are supported by a well-trained army of volunteers and officials who re-engage and maintain their credentials and knowledge every single year, because that is required by the International Sport Federations who sanction these events. This core of incredible people includes gate-keepers, timers, scorekeepers, they work the starts and finishes, maintain course surfaces, are referees and technical delegates …. it is an extensive list. It did not start in 1988 – it existed before but the Games of ’88 expanded our sport ‘workforce’ to cover all aspects of organization.

The legacy of 1988 was the expansion of our volunteer and officials capacity to encompass all winter sport and the enthusiasm to drive it.

Are facilities maintained? You bet. They are used extensively, at all levels, every-single-year. Who uses these facilities? Registered athletes with the sports, at every level – from age 6 to the Olympic podium. Thousands of them. Every-single-year since 1985.

So this is not about just 50 days. This is about how sport has managed our athletes, our venues, our events, our infrastructure, our volunteers and our officials – since 1988.

The sport legacy starts today. Yes, today. More than 50% of Canada’s 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Teams are already using the 2026 Games venues as members of our National Teams. The seven winter National Sport Organizations are already preparing training sessions and building competition committees for camps and events that will take place in a few weeks – as it has done for the past three decades.

The result of this foundation can be seen every year in World Cup and World Championship competition. The system that evaluates what we do every single day, seven days a week, for 52 weeks a year …. and have been doing for decades.

Delivering excellence.

calgary– – – – Posted June 23, 2016 – – – –

Each winter, the Calgary region hosts up to seven annual World Cup events. Another four winter sports stage World Championship or quadrennial World Cups. Alberta is home to eight of the twelve winter National Sport Organizations. Canadian Sport Institute Calgary has matured into the largest of Canada’s seven Sport Institutes.

In 1981, when a fairly obscure western Canadian city called Calgary won the right to host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, none of this existed.

So much has changed on the sport landscape in 35 years. But to really understand the legacy of 1988, you need to think back to what it was like to be in sport prior to 1981.

There was no Saddledome, no Olympic Oval. The Canmore Nordic Centre and Nakiska did not exist. Canada Olympic Park was everyone’s favourite city ski hill called Paskapoo. The administration of most winter sports operated out of Ottawa, under the watchful eye of Sport Canada. Calgary hosted the Brier and Skate Canada and had held the first-ever World Cup downhill at Lake Louise. The Flames were new in town, housed in the 6,500 seat Corral.

There certainly was a thriving winter sport community. International calibre Olympic talent had emerged from local clubs and programs in alpine ski racing, figure skating, speed skating and hockey. Local boosters wanted to run events to showcase Calgary, Alberta and the Canadian Rockies, to give homegrown athletes as well as other Canadian Olympic prospects and talent in emerging sports like freestyle and shirt track speed skating  a chance to compete at home. To inspire local kids. But we lacked facilities and international experience.

So when Frank King galvanized a renewed Olympic bid from the Calgary Booster Club in 1979, he found a highly receptive audience and community.

I’m reflecting back to these early days of the 1988 Olympic bid, because it is so important to contrast what we take for granted today, with what existed 35 years ago. No annual World Cups. No National Teams based in the province. Rare international events. Ski resorts, hockey arenas and precious little else.

It was an enormous amount of sweat equity, ingenuity and investment that changed revolutionized sport in Canada. We all know how successful the 1988 Games were. But the real success story started through the preparation and development as Calgary ramped up for ’88.

To prepare for the Games, host cities are required to stage “pre-Olympic” events in all sports. A common-sense plan to test venues, give athletes a chance to train on Olympic sites, test logistics that range from transportation to security to pageantry, to train volunteers and work with partners that would include media, sponsors and funding agencies. The investment in people – volunteers and officials – delivered the capacity and know-how to organize annual World Cup events. Result: alpine skiing, bobsleigh, luge, skeleton and speed skating now are regular stops on the international calendar, with hockey, cross country skiing, biathlon, figure skating and curling hosting major events.

Successful annual events were bolstered by a will to build training environments. National Training Centres emerged as funding became available, with National Teams centralizing their year-round programs close to these venues. Result: National Training Centres for eleven (11) sports are now established at Canmore, Nakiska, the University of Calgary and Canada Olympic Park.

With National Teams centralized in Alberta, it followed that once Sport Canada allowed the National Sport Organizations to move their head offices to logical locations (rather than Ottawa), the administration of each sport followed the athletes. Result: Calgary and Canmore are now home to Hockey Canada, Alpine Canada, Luge Canada, Bobsleigh/Skeleton Canada, Ski Jump Canada, Nordic Combined Canada, Cross Country Canada and Biathlon Canada.

As Canada established a network of Canadian Sport Centres across the country to support our athletes, with most winter sports housed in the Calgary region is was a natural evolution that CSI-Calgary became the primary provider to winter sports. Sport Centres are the employer of the support teams that surround athletes including exercise physiologists, strength and conditioning coaches, biomechanics, dieticians, mental performance consultants, anthropometrists, biochemistry lab technicians, physicians, physiotherapists, athletic therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists. Working with funding partners at the federal, provincial and municipal level, WinSport Canada established the Athlete Centre within Canada Olympic Park that is now one of the leading facilities for athlete training in the world. Result: CSI-Calgary has evolved to become Canada’s largest Sport Institute, now employing more than 75 professionals and working with345 current and future Olympians/Paralympians and Pan-Am/Parapan athletes and hundreds of coaches, technicians, officials and volunteers working with sport organizations.

The steadily expanding sport expertise and availability of venues has easily accommodated the addition of new and emerging sports that were added to the Olympic program post-1988. First to be included were skeleton and freestyle (moguls and aerials), followed by snowboard (cross, alpine and half-pipe) and ski cross, then expanded to slopestyle and now big air. Result: skeleton, freestyle, snowboard, ski cross programs and events were merged into the Calgary and region sporting mix on venues that are arguably best in the world.

The circle of sport influence driven by the legacy of ’88 and the critical mass of sport expertise has continued to bring even more projects with a core sport focus to bolster the sector. Result: Canada’s Sport’s Hall of Fame, the winter offices of Own the Podium and National Sport School; complimenting sport are the Human Performance Lab at the University of Calgary and Sport & Wellness Engineering Technologies (SAIT). Expertise along with bricks and mortar that have gravitated to Calgary as a centre of sport excellence.

The human factor has enormous impact. From those who are passing through to many who came and put down roots, Calgary and area have been transformed. Many recognizable names within the sport community have come from other countries and parts of Canada. They have brought professional credentials and sporting pedigree. Their children have joined our clubs. Their leadership and expertise populate sport boards, event committees, administration of local, provincial and national organizations. Result: Hundreds of international athletes come to Canada each year for training and competition. Canadians from right across the country centralize to Calgary each year for their National Team programs. Many have elected to stay. Hundreds of sport professionals who lead and support our sport programs have been recruited from around the world and now call Canada home.

Just imagine if you can, almost none of this existed in 1981.

The business of international sport is no different than any other business sector. To remain competitive, relevant and to thrive, infrastructure needs to be maintained. Excellence is fluid, with the bar constantly raised. The medium that presents sport to the world is in flux with the expectations of digital delivery and efficient broadcast servicing a requirement for all sporting events from the World Cup level and up. We have an enormous sport business now resident in the region, so a review of existing and potential facilities and the infrastructure necessary to keep our competitive edge is a prudent business decision.

It hasn’t all been sweetness and light through this journey. Mistakes have been made, but an Olympic bid is a once in a generation chance to learn, adapt and improve in the same way Calgary learned from the Montreal experience and Vancouver learned from Calgary. But on balance, without doubt, the 1988 Games have been good for the city and region, province and country and an enormous lift for Canadian sport. Even a review to evaluate a potential bid is a chance to refresh, reinvigorate, renew, redress and rebuild.

This bid is for an event 10 years from today. At the core, the focus of the feasibility study should be on where we, as a community and country, would like to see this thriving sector evolve to by 2050 and beyond. To inspire youngsters, lift the next generation of champions, transfer knowledge to new leaders and officials. At a time where diversification is high on the list of urgent needs for our economy, sport and the related sectors of tourism and communications can figure prominently.

When the IOC announced “Calgary!” in October, 1981, none of us truly imagined the possibilities. What a journey. As we now look forward, what opportunity awaits us …..

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Fighting for the soul of skiing

Winter is an elemental part of the Canadian soul. Ice and snow. Wayne Gretzky and Nancy Greene. The Habs and the Crazy Canucks. Pierre Harvey and the Quebec Air Force.

Continue reading

Posted in Investing in athletes, Olympic sport, Ski Racing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments