Canada's nordic combined and jumping programs lose major source of funding

Canada’s nordic combined and jumping programs lose major source of funding{mosimage}Facing $6.5 million in facility modernization costs, CODA – the largest financial supporter of ski jumping and nordic combined training programs in Canada – announced Wednesday it will withdraw program funding for the two Olympic winter sports, March 31, 2005.

CODA is fulfilling its obligations for the 2004-05 competitive season which will allow qualified athletes to compete at the 2005 World Championships.

In addition, CODA will also continue its support for Canada’s Olympic caliber athletes seeking to compete at the upcoming Winter Games in Torino, Italy, by providing one-time grants of $25,000 for up to six internationally ranked athletes to pursue their Olympic goals.

“This is one of the most difficult decisions we have ever taken, but we cannot afford to go on,” said John Mills, president, CODA. “Since 1988, we have spent more than $10 million supporting these sports, and the dedicated athletes seeking to excel internationally in ski jumping and nordic combined.”

CODA’s annual contribution toward Canada’s ski jumping and nordic combined programs, in addition to capital expenditures, has been at least $700,000 each year – $300,000 in direct programming costs and $400,000 in facility operations.

The decision will affect nearly 80 athletes. Three national team coaches on the CODA payroll will not be retained at the end of the season in their current role. CODA has provided about 80 per cent of the funding spent in support of Canada’s national teams and the facilities they use.

CODA also added it would require $6.5 million to modernize existing facilities to current international training and competitive standards, especially in ski jumping where top-ranked athletes today are jumping significantly further than where the landing bowl was built for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games.

The decision to withdraw from ski jumping and nordic combined was approved by CODA’s Board of Directors Monday night.

Led by the Board of Directors, CODA has been focusing its efforts since 2001 on working aggressively with its sport partners to build the nation’s first Canadian Centre of Sport Excellence in southern Alberta. Designed with extensive input from elite athletes, coaches and national sports organizations, the Centre is integral to deliver the resources Canadian athletes need to achieve Canada’s goal of becoming the world’s leading winter sport nation at the 2010 Olympics.

Since announcing the plan prior to the 2002 Games, CODA has invested nearly $15 million modernizing the Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary for Canada’s speed skating athletes, the Olympic track and construction of the Ice House at Canada Olympic Park, home to the men’s and women’s national bobsleigh, luge and skeleton teams, installing a high-speed chairlift in support of alpine and snowboard training, and for the hundreds of thousands of recreational snow sport enthusiasts, and creating the Calgary Gymnastics Centre, which is providing tremendous cross-training opportunities for Canada’s winter and summer athletes.

“Canada’s athletes have many critically urgent needs, and the international competitive bar is being raised every day by our competitors around the world,” said Mills. “Realistically, CODA must focus our limited resources where we can have the greatest impact on achieving World Cup and Olympic success.”

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