Alberta needs to spend more on elite athletes, experts say
Alberta athletes lagging behind on Olympic podium appearances
Quebec's impressive showing at the Olympics has some Albertans calling for more financial support of elite home-grown athletes earlier in their development.
"Where we're behind other provinces — in particular British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — is our investment in athletes and coaches and the programming for those young athletes to get better, to move them up the high performance system," said Dale Henwood, president of the Canadian Sport Institute, which trains high performance athletes in Calgary.
"We just need to provide more and better support for those athletes at a younger age."
Quebec athletes have won the lion's share of Canada's Olympic medals in Sochi. Only one Alberta athlete has won a medal so far -- Kaetlyn Osmond, who trains in Edmonton, was part of Team Canada's silver medal win in team figure skating on Sunday.
Frank Ammar's daughter, Amanda Ammar, a cross-country skier at her second Olympics, is one of more than 50- athletes from Alberta. The 28-year-old is largely self trained and financed, he said.
"It is an incredible feat because she did it on her own," Ammar said. "I think they need to cough up some money."
This morning Amanda Ammar finished in 55th place in the 10K classic, a similar result she had in Saturday's 15K skiathalon.
In the past decade Alberta invested $100 million in athletic training facilities, but it's a different story for funding the athletes themselves.
The Canadian Sport Institute received $160,000 from the province last year, Henwood said.
At the same time its Quebec counterpart received $2.5 million.
While both provinces spend millions more, it's an example of the disparity between the two provinces, he said.
After consultations last fall, Alberta is re-writing its 10-year sports plan.
"I want to make sure through the renewal of our sports system we have the absolute best system for developing athletes," said recreation minister Richard Starke.
- An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that Alberta athletes have yet to win a medal at the Winter Olympics as of Feb. 13. In fact, Kaetlyn Osmond, who trains in Edmonton, was a member of the group that won a silver medal in team figure skating on Sunday.Feb 13, 2014 5:34 PM MT
With files from CBC's Andrea Huncar