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Canmore Nordic Centre loses World Cup biathlon events for years

The nordic centre in Canmore, Alta., won't host international biathlon events for at least three to four years due to its aging facility — and its supporters blame the province.

Advocates blame Alberta government for not committing to key upgrades by deadline

Canada's Scott Gow skis during the World Cup biathlon men's short 15-km event at the Canmore Nordic Centre in February. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The nordic centre in Canmore, Alta., won't host international biathlon events for at least three to four years due to its aging facility — and its supporters blame the province.

Athletes and local organizers have been pushing for years to get the province to commit funds to upgrade the aging Canmore Nordic Centre, which needed improvements to maintain its A-licence from the International Biathlon Union (IBU)

"As it stands, the Nordic Centre isn't fit for the International Biathlon Union's World Cup events, and won't play host for at least three more years," said Scott Gow, a biathlete on Canada's national team who has trained and competed many times in Canmore.

The Canmore Nordic Centre was built for the 1988 Calgary Winter Games. Because it's outside the Town of Canmore's limits, in the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, it falls under the provincial jurisdiction.

The nordic centre had been asking the province for about $13 million to expand its facilities and renovate its firing range, according to Ken Davies, chair of the Alberta Event Hosting Society.

Scott Gow, shown in a happier moment, says the Canmore Nordic Centre's aging facility no longer meets the standards set by the International Biathlon Union. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Davies says the province missed a key deadline for committing money to update the nordic centre — and until that happens, it won't be able to host any more biathlon World Cup or World Championship events.

"I'm disappointed for the province and for Canmore because, you know, they miss all the direct investment in the community and in the province," said Davies, who has pointed out the events generate millions in spending in the Bow Valley.

In a statement to CBC News, the province recognized Canmore has a long-standing tradition of hosting World Cup biathlon events.

"While we recognize that Canmore Nordic Centre has a long-standing tradition of hosting World Cup biathlon ski events, $13 million in upgrades is a significant cost that must be measured against other pressing government priorities," said Jess SInclair, press secretary to Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon.

"Department officials have been meeting with representatives from the nordic centre and we will be making government-wide capital planning decisions as we move into the fall budget cycle."

With files from Helen Pike

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