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Funding announcement to benefit local CSI outpost

$3 million announced for Canadian Sport Institutes across the country
COC funding Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut is shown in this file photo. The COC recently announced $3 million in funding for the Canadian Sport Institute Network. One campus is located in Whistler. FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

The Canadian Sport Institute (CSI) Pacific campus here in Whistler will receive a shot in the arm thanks to the Canadian Olympic Committee.

In an announcement on Jan. 7, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it would inject $3 million into the Canadian Sport Institute Network over the next three years.

The funding will be spread across the seven CSI branches across Canada — Pacific, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic. As part of the Pacific branch, there are campuses in Vancouver and Victoria in addition to Whistler.

Leslie Clarke, the manager of winter sports talent management here at the local campus, said on Jan. 9 the exact amount of funding that will make its way here to Whistler is still being determined, and therefore, specific details as to how the campus may benefit are unclear.

"It's based on need and how many athletes are at each campus," she said.

Clarke expects to have a better idea of improvements to the Whistler campus after the numbers are crunched, which she expects will have happened by next month.

"We've got a list of priorities here on what we want," she said. "We're really, really well set up in this last year alone with adding some new equipment into the actual gym, so it's going to be a matter of perfecting what we need, what each sport wants.

"That's the beauty of having this centre in Whistler as the winter sports hub; we have such a great relationship with the national sport organizations, they can come in and say 'Hey, we really need this specific piece of equipment to do this, this and this' and we'll try to do whatever we can to make it happen."

CSI Pacific CEO Wendy Pattenden had an idea of what she would like to see come to the Whistler campus.

"There's a need to get more adaptive equipment for athletes with a disability," she said. "Primarily, it's for facility access, to go towards those operational costs, equipment, and performance services."

The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) also committed money as part of the announcement but an exact figure couldn't be confirmed. Pattenden said there would likely be an official announcement in the near future.

"We have a separate agreement with CPC for additional funding for equipment specifically around a program called Game Plan, which is a transition program for athletes," she said. "It's definitely new money, and in this environment, that's tough to do."

Game Plan, which helps athletes plan for their next steps after their competitive career is over, was officially unveiled in September.

However the funding manifests itself on Legacy Way, it'll provide a further boost to the inaugural year of the NextGen teams hosted here in the resort. NextGen programming works to develop athletes estimated to be five to eight years away from reaching Olympic glory.

"We're really cluing in, not just targeting 2018 but 2022 for winter sports," Clarke said.

Clarke explained the NextGen program is, in spirit, a continuation of the talent development program for young elite athletes with a restructured funding and organization model.

"We had some flagship programs that were originally funded by Own the Podium that were to provide the sports science and management role in athletes that were better than the provincial team but not quite ready for the national teams," Clarke explained, noting the Whistler campus hosted three winter sports and four summer sports over the past three years. "This new program this year called NextGen, that is the result of the positive outcome that we've had with the seven sports altogether."

Clarke explained the NextGen program is run primarily by the national sport organizations for the respective sports while funding comes from Own the Podium and the Canadian Sport Institute. As part of the talent development program, the Canadian Sport Institute had a larger role in the technical direction of the programming but has now shifted to more of a management role, offering professional development for the coaches, running facilities like the local campus and delivering sports science services ranging from nutrition to sports psychology.

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