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The Sport Information Resource Centre

CALGARY—On behalf of past, current and future luge athletes – including Canada’s medal-winning Olympic Luge Team – we want to express our deep disappointment in WinSport’s decision to use Olympic legacy funds, and money previously allocated by the provincial government for the restoration of the Olympic Track in Calgary, to generate its own revenue through the renovation of the Daylodge at Canada Olympic Park.  WinSport Media Release: https://bit.ly/3rz6JUK

It is important for Calgarians, Albertans and Canadians to understand this decision effectively removes the critical resources required for our youth to discover, develop and excel in Olympic sliding sport.

The Alberta Government and the Government of Canada previously committed $17 million to the track project. WinSport advised sport groups the project would-be put on hold until it secures the $8 million needed to close the funding gap.

WinSport originally advised Luge Canada the $25-million track restoration project was scheduled to start in spring 2020. However, it began demolition of the first five corners of the Olympic Track in the fall of 2019 without serving notice to its sport partners. WinSport has now also re-allocated the $10 million of provincial government funding originally invested in the track restoration project to the Daylodge renovation without advising the impacted sports.

The Olympic Track is a breeding ground for young aspiring athletes and has been a medal-generating factory for all of Canada’s sliding sports for more than three decades. With the road to the Olympic Winter Games sliding through the Stampede City since 1988, it has sparked the Olympic dream for hundreds of thousands of Alberta youth, but also for hundreds of Canadian athletes who have relocated to Calgary to make those dreams a reality.

After retiring from sport, many of those athletes have stayed in Calgary, purchasing homes, raising families, and becoming integral members of the community as police officers, engineers, doctors, firefighters, nurses, community leaders, and those who work in the business community.

The Track has also had a positive impact on the fabric of our community well beyond sport. The flagship facility of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, and the athletes who train there, have always given back to the community – attending schools, hospitals, charitable events – in addition to educating youth across the country, boosting tourism in Alberta, and providing team-building opportunities for Corporate Canada.

The Olympic Track continued to be a major revenue generator for Calgary’s economy until its closure in 2019.  Similar to a major convention that returns to the city each year, a World Cup or World Championship sliding sport event generated more than $1 million for Calgary’s economy – not to mention – spin-off benefits for surrounding communities as international participants and their families often take advantage of the travel to Calgary to explore what Alberta has to offer. Television exposure to millions of worldwide viewers also has had a tremendous impact on Calgary, Albertan and Canadian tourism.

WinSport has repeatedly reassured Canada’s sliding sports of its commitment to secure the additional funds required to complete the restoration project. WinSport has not communicated its decision to move this existing provincial funds to other projects before Tuesday’s media conference.

Removing the track from Calgary’s legacy of Olympic venues puts the future of our sport in Canada at serious risk.

It is our sincere hope the Alberta Government will review the reallocation of funds that were originally invested to make improvements to the track at Canada Olympic Park – a clear investment in our community, in recreational and high-performance sport, in tourism and in economic development.