A team of 10 Canadian downhillers is heading to the Mountain Bike World Championships at Fort William, Scotland next week, with no funding or support from the Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) or Sport Canada — a first since cycling funding was redirected entirely to Olympic cycling disciplines and athletes.
To keep the sport alive coach Chris Colbeck and others have created the National Downhill Cycling Foundation of Canada, which will raise money to send athletes to events such as worlds.
The first fundraiser for the foundation will take place next week in Vancouver. There will be a semi-formal and three-course meal at Fiddlehead Joe’s on the False Creek seawall. Tickets are $125.
Following the dinner there will be a party at The Plaza Club on Granville Street, featuring the band YUCA. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
According to Colbeck, the foundation and fundraiser were necessary to support Canada’s top athletes in a sport that has grown in leaps and bounds across Canada as resorts have followed Whistler-Blackcomb’s lead and built bike parks to complement their winter operations.
Said Colbeck, himself a former national champion and World Cup racer: “I will not sit back and watch the athletes struggle year after year after year financially. It paralyzes the future growth of the sport.”
Whistler’s Jeff Beatty hopes that the situation is temporary, and that the International Olympic Committee will add down hill to the Olympic program. The fact that hills are required is not an obstacle, he says.
“I have been to dozens of events on smaller hills. Grouse Mountain hosted a World Cup on a course that took about a minute and 50 seconds to come down, and it was such a crazy course. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t much vertical, it’s more what you do with the course,” he said.
“Canada Olympic Park is a small hill as well, but they’ve always put on the sickest World Cup races. If you can hold a race there you can hold one anywhere.”
For more information on the National Downhill Cycling Foundation of Canada, visit http://ndcfcanada.com .
2007 Downhill Team
Micayla Gatto, North Vancouver BC
Luke Kitzanuk, Montreal QC
Anne Laplangte, Hull QC
Hans Lambert, St Bruno QC
Claire Buchar, Whistler BC
Jeff Beatty, Whistler BC
Steve Smith, Nanaimo BC
Tyler Morland, Whistler BC
Steve Chan, Nanaimo BC
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