Owning the podium in 2010 

Winter sport organizations meet to discuss strategies for Olympics

The heads of Canada’s snow sport organizations are determined to do well at home during 2010 Winter Games, and met this week to discuss strategies to make that a reality. They’re calling it the Own the Podium program.

The goal is for national sport organizations to take more responsibility for their results, for Olympic funding groups to increase funding to make this possible, and for all the participants to work together more effectively to create better coaches, athletes and programs.

"For Canada to be the number one winter Olympic sport nation in the world in 2010, we must win approximately 35 Olympic medals," said Mark Lowry, executive director of the Canadian Olympic Committee. "This is double the performance of the 2002 Olympic success of 17 medals."

The sport organizations and Olympic funding partners believe it will take $35 million a year in funding to make this possible, which they say is the equivalent of just one dollar for every Canadian every year from now until 2010. That money is on top of the money that is already committed to the Olympics by the provincial and federal government to build the Olympic infrastructure in Vancouver and Whistler.

Tony Daffern, a board member and past president of Cross Country Canada, believes that groups will do better if they work together and share resources.

"To be successful, a sustainable sport framework must be developed and funded," he said. "This will take shared leadership, collaboration and evaluation by the NSOs (national sport organizations) and Olympic sport funding partners."

The Calgary meetings on Feb. 2 and 3 included NSO representatives for alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh and skeleton, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, hockey, ski jumping, luge, Nordic combined, snowboarding, speed skating and the Paralympics.

The Olympic funding partners in attendance were the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), the Canadian Olympic Development Agency (CODA), the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee, 2010 LegaciesNow and Sport Canada. Independent sport consultant Cathy Priestner also participated.

After two days of discussions, the participants committed to a number of guiding principles:

• A commitment to maximizing the potential for Canadian athletes to win medals;

• Performance-centred decision making regarding athletes, coaches, officials and business – always making the best decision or choosing the best person for the job;

• The NSOs are the leaders in developing their respective sports in Canada, and are accountable for their results;

• There must be co-operation and open dealings among the NSOs and Olympic sport funding partners in order to collectively advance winter sports in Canada;

• In collaboration with the Olympic funding partners, the winter NSOs will establish and monitor an agreed upon set of benchmarks and measures of future success, and will be held accountable for these measures;

• The funding partners will commit to funding the winter NSOs to support these measures of success;

• The partners will commit to 2006 preparation seminars for athletes and NSO professionals in the summer of 2004 and 2005;

• Hiring a professional to further develop the Own the Podium plan;

• NSOs commit to meeting regularly to collaborate and share information.

The framework for Own the Podium will be fleshed out into a plan over the next few months by members of the steering committee, which includes Ken Read, the president of Alpine Canada Alpin, Wayne Russell of Hockey Canada, Tony Daffern of Cross Country Canada and Pam Coburn, the CEO of Skate Canada.

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