Calgary

Nenshi worried Calgary's status as winter sports destination slipping away

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he's worried Calgary's status as Canada's centre of high performance winter sports is in jeopardy.

'High performance sport is really the work of the provincial and federal governments'

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he's worried about the decline of Calgary's winter sports infrastructure. (CBC)

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he's worried Calgary's status as Canada's centre of high performance winter sports is in jeopardy.

Ski jumping will no longer be offered by WinSport at Canada Olympic Park and the bobsled and luge tracks there have been shut down because there wasn't enough money for renovations.

Nenshi says the decision to not pursue a bid for the 2026 Olympics will not help the situation facing Calgary's aging sports facilities.

He says that while ski jumping is a sport with few participants and comes with high costs to maintain facilities, the sliding sports are different.

"The sliding is a sport that is large by Olympic sport standards and was really something quite special and unique for Calgary and was a relatively small amount of money to keep going. So I think that's a case that I continue to make."

Looking north from the top of the ski jumps at Winsport Canada in late 2018. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Nenshi says that while it's the city's job to fund recreational sports amenities for Calgarians, it's up to Ottawa and the province to decide whether the city can remain as a destination for elite athletics.

"The funny thing about this is, it's not really the city's responsibility to fund high-performance sport," he said.

"High performance sport is really the work of the provincial and federal governments."

Nenshi says he will keep lobbying the senior governments to help make up the $5 million in additional money needed for the approximately $25-million job of upgrading the sliding tracks at Canada Olympic Park.

"I continue to believe that is a relatively small investment for a very large benefit," he said.

In the wake of the closure of the jumps at COP, Ski Jumping Canada has been setting up a portable jump at Turtle Hill in the southwest community of Glendale.

President Todd Stretch says there is a plan in the works to build a new Calgary nordic facility within the next three years that will accommodate cross-country biathlon, ski jumping and nordic combined, which incorporates ski jumping and cross-country skiing.

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