The facility where the Ski Jumping competitions of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary took place is now serving as a training center and competition venue for the Canadian athletes. Most recently, the Canadian nationals were held on the HS 93 in the Canada Olympic Park in October 2018. Now the facility shall be closed for financial reasons and the Canadian ski jumpers are trying everything they can to prevent this from happening.
1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary (CAN): Matti Nykaenen from Finland is the outstanding Ski Jumping athlete. Nykaenen wins the gold medal on the normal, on the large hill and also with the Finnish team. Besides the winner, also the last of the competitions also attracted lots of public interest: An Englishman by the name of Michael Edwards, better known as Eddie Edwards or Eddie the eagle.
30 years have passed since then and for 30 years the Canada Olympic Park was used as a training center for the Canadian ski jumpers. But that shall be over now. The entire facility with its five Ski Jumping hills is about to be closed.
"The training hills K18, K38, K6, and K90 were used year-round approximately 10,000 jumps per year, we recently ran the Canadian Nationals October 29, 2018, on the small and normal hill", explains Gregor Linsig, head coach of the Canadian ski jumpers.
"In the last two years, the operator WinSport has also shut down the Cross Country training trails and Biathlon training facilities replaced by a winter tubing park. It is our understanding that the WinSport is losing 5-7 million per year, and has been over the past decade. We requested and have been unable to receive the financials for the last two years for confirmation", Linsig added.
Only the tower of the K 114 shall remain
"According to WinSport, they will keep the large K114 tower. The K114 tower contains 35 cellular antennas and is now purposed for ziplining. WinSport is planning to demolish all other hills, however, I do not believe they have the funds to demolish the ski jumping facilities at this time. Verbally the management suggested there is a plan is to add additional ski area space and a Big Air Freestyle Park, this plan has never materialized. Recently we had a FIS expert evaluate the small hills this report was also provided WinSport. The expert suggests that the smaller hills still have approximately 10 years left of jumping without major upgrades."
It's about the money
"WinSport has cited the costs of operating the small hills at 500,000 per year, which we strongly dispute. To operate the three smaller hills WinSport has stated this number to be 345,000 per year. To renovate the hills WinSport now states the cost to be 7 million, not sure how they derived this estimate.
The operator runs the hills, ski club volunteers and coaches assist to make snow, cut tracks and prep landing hills. The provincial ski jumping and nordic combined organization reprofiled the K90 and added refrigeration at their own expense. The landing hill on the K38 was repaired by the Altius Ski Jumping Club in Calgary families and volunteers two years ago", said Linsig.
Where can the ski jumpers still train in Canada?
Apart from the facility in Calgary, there's also the Whistler Olympic Park, about 1000 kilometers west of Calgary, where the 2010 Olympic Games were held. Whistler Olympic Park has winter facilities that are used for two weeks per year, by the Calgary Athletes for training and for a yearly competition. In Whistler, there are also K20 and K40 training hills that can be used throughout the winter. But these hills can only be used in winter, they don't have plastic mats.
Why was it decided to close the facility now?
"WinSport has been attempting to close the ski jumps for the last 20 years. The land surrounding the park that was included the legacy agreement has been sold to developers. WinSport has also built a 210 million dollar hockey facility and professional center, both of which are costing WinSport more than anticipated", Gregor Linsig concludes.
What remains now is the hope that it is still possible to prevent the closure.
Here you can sign a petition that will be forwarded to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau: