Speed Skating Canada Calls For Action to Help Address Calgary Olympic Oval Financial Situation

Speed Skating Canada (SSC) sent a call to action to the Funding Partners of the Calgary Olympic Oval, today, in order to address its current financial situation.

The operating budget of the Calgary Olympic Oval has been cut significantly this year, going from 3,6 million to 2,9 million, and the current funding from the funding partners for the 2009-10 year is of 2,1 million. To address the shortcoming, staffing cuts were announced in the last weeks, and there are plans in place to reduce ice time from 9 months to 5 months. This reduction means that SSC’s athletes, as well as all Calgary Oval athletes from various provinces and territories across the country, would not have access to the ice in the Calgary Olympic Oval until September, and would only be able to skate there until late January 2010.

In this critical Olympic year, SSC wants the situation to be addressed immediately in order to ensure optimal preparation for our athletes for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, as well as the future of our sport.

“The funding model for the Olympic Oval is truly deficient”, said Olympic medalist and current SSC Board Member Susan Auch. “But the solution cannot be to simply dismantle the most productive legacy of the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games. This threatens not only our 2010 aspirations for podium success, but also our potential for 2014 and beyond.”

In the short term, SSC asks that the funding partners, namely the Government of Canada, Winsport (formerly CODA) and the University of Calgary, rally together to find the necessary solutions to operate the Calgary Olympic Oval for 9 months this season, as it is crucial in order for National Team speed skaters to train there and prepare for the Olympic Team Selections scheduled for August for short track and December for long track.

“We need to address the situation right away in order for our team to be ready for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games”, said Brian Rahill, SSC’s High Performance and Olympic Program Director. “Canada’s goal is to be the number one nation in 2010, and speed skating is supposed to contribute about half of the medals, but without proper preparation and ice time in Calgary, this will be a very tough challenge for us and our chances to meet our expected performance objectives are jeopadized.”

In the long run, the Calgary Olympic Oval funding model needs to be revisited in order to ensure the long term viability of its programs. Speed Skating Canada is willing to help contribute in the development of the new system, but we need the Government of Canada to take leadership in revisiting the process, and we need to make sure we include the Province of Alberta and the City of Calgary as well.