Friday, May 7, 2004 - Latest News
Canmore World Cup bid running out of time

From the Rocky Mountain Outlook - By DAN OVSEY - REPORTER

Delays in securing funding from the provincial government for upgrades to the Nordic Centre might force an international decision making body to reject a bid to host the 2005 Cross-Country World Cup in Canmore.

Robert Hogg, Chief of Competitions for the Calgary-based Foothills Ski Club and Chairman of the World Cup bid, said confirmation for funding will not be coming until the end of June, almost three weeks after a crucial meeting of the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS), which will decide the fate of the club's bid to host the event.

The ski club has requested $425,000 in provincial funding to finance the television advertising-component of the tournament. But more importantly, it is awaiting confirmation of a $15 million enhancement to the Canmore Nordic Centre, which is currently considered inadequate for hosting the World Cup.

"Anything we could have before that first week of June is certainly going to help our case when we present to FIS," said Hogg. "We are at risk going into those meetings without having our facility and government funding confirmed."

Hogg said funding approval is crucial in securing Canada's bid for the tournament.

The Cross-Country World Cup, which takes place every two years, has not been held in Alberta since before the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and has not been held anywhere in Canada since 1995.

Currently the ski club has put in a bid to hold three events in December 2005 at the Nordic Centre, including a relay, team sprint, and a mass start.

However, none of those are possible without significant improvements to the infrastructure of the facility. Community Development Minister Gene Zwozdesky said the initial deadline given to him for the completion of a Business Case Scenario was May 1 and such a project requires approximately six weeks of work.

Zwozdesky added the decision to upgrade the Nordic Centre would have to be a collaborative effort between Community Development, the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Infrastructure and Municipal Affairs.

"I'm supporting a positive decision from my colleagues so the upgrades can take place," said Zwozdesky. "It wouldn't be a unilateral decision, it's a matter of 'if we do this, will you do that?' We want to make the Canmore Nordic Centre the best we can with the dollars available. At this point those dollars are very rich and none of (the ministries) have that kind of budget." Scandinavian countries have expressed interest in taking over Canada's requested dates, and a lack of funding confirmation could force FIS to honour their request.

Hogg said he remains hopeful the competition will be held in Canmore.

"It's a nervous time, but I remain pretty confident that we're well on track and have made substantial progress and are going to have a positive outcome."

The 2005 event isn't the only one at stake. The ski club was also planning bids for the 2007 and 2009 competitions, but a denial of its current application could hinder its chances for future bids.

"If we're unsuccessful in bringing the 2005 dates, it's going to weigh somewhat against us in future dates," said Hogg.

The necessary upgrades to the Nordic Centre include widened ski trails and new snow making equipment. Such enhancements would not only allow the facility to host a wider range of events, but would also provide adequate broadcasting appeal, a crucial component of any World Cup tournament.

Canmore Mayor Glen Craig said he could not stress enough the boost to morale hosting such a tournament would have on the community.

"If you want to see energy and life, it's unreal what (the World Cup) does to the community," said the Mayor. "You have to experience it to realize it."

As printed in the Rocky Mountain Outlook, May 6.

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