Northern Ont. coaches push Olympic sports other than hockey
Some coaches of Olympic sports in northern Ontario say a lack of exposure keeps their games from growing.
Michel Menard, who runs the biathlon club in Blind River, said having more certified rifle ranges would help expand the skiing and shooting sport in the north. But he said the biggest problem is exposure — with one sport in particular hogging the headlines across Canada.
"The media's not helping at all, because all they're talking about is hockey — hockey, hockey, hockey all the time,” he said.
“We look in our local paper and there are three pages about hockey."
Meanwhile, the biathlon club in Sault Ste. Marie is expecting growth now that an agreement with a local gun club is allowing biathletes to practice both shooting and skiing in the same place.
Getting the word out
Some coaches struggle with getting the information out to people to let them know there are other sports that may interest youngsters.
Sudbury Sprinters speed skating club coach Nicole Therrien said getting ice time in between hockey games could be easier, but she said that's not what's holding the speed skating back in the north.
"It's not the facility. It's more just to feed the people the information [and] let them know that there are other sports if your child doesn't like hockey."
There are about a dozen speed skaters in Sudbury — where other Olympic sports are nowhere to be seen.
Esther Dalle from the Ontario Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association said to develop the sports here, the province needs a track and that will never happen.
"They only get built at Olympics and we'll never have an Olympics in Ontario,” she said.
That means aspiring sliders have to move west to the facilities in Calgary or Whistler.
Olympics where ski jumping 'lives and dies'
It's the same story for ski jumping.
Former Olympic ski jumper Ron Richards said the sport is so obscure it might fade away if it wasn't for the Olympics.
"That's kind of where it lives and dies. If it wasn't for the Olympics, more sports wouldn't survive."
Richards has now shelved his skis, and spends his time inside arenas in the Oshawa area, coaching short track speed skating.
Check out the photo gallery below to see what the sport of ski-jumping was like in Sudbury, decades ago: