A glacier to call their own 

Pilot project provides a venue at home for Canadian snow-sport athletes to train

Christmas came about six months early for Canada’s on-snow athletes, with the announcement of a Summer Glacier Training Project for this season.

Located near Panorama Ski Resort, the summer training facility on Farnham Glacier is something that has been on the Canadian alpine and freestyle ski and snowboard team wish lists for a long time.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Olympic Development Association, the 2010 LegaciesNow Society, the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced $1 million in funding for the glacier training centre. Snowcats used for winter skiing at the Canada Olympic Park outside of Calgary have already been airlifted to the site, and CODA workers have been prepping the site for summer training.

The facility will be used by Alpine Canada Alpin, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association and the Canadian Snowboard Federation until mid August.

"Access to cost-effective, leading training facilities at home is what Canadian athletes must have if Canada is to attain its goal of becoming a world-leading winter sports nation by 2010," said John Mills, the president of CODA.

In order to train year-round, teams have travelled to Europe and as far away as New Zealand. Even then they had to share the slopes and timing equipment with other teams.

A home facility is expected to save Canadian snow-sport governing bodies hundreds of thousands in travel costs if the pilot project is a success. Those savings will be channeled back into the national programs.

In addition, the facility keeps team money at home, while possibly generating revenue in the future by allowing other teams to train there as well.

"This facility will provide new economic opportunities for the Kootenays, and enhanced training opportunities for our athletes," said B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell. "It’s an excellent example of the benefits that the 2010 Games will provide for our entire province."

Working with the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, CODA secured a temporary investigative use from B.C. Land and Water to operate this pilot project, which will be evaluated this fall.

If it is a success, there is a possibility that it will be developed into a permanent facility with buildings and a lift.

"What we know for sure is that this summer, Canada’s snowboarders, freestyle skiers and alpine ski racers are finally, for the first time ever, training on snow at home," said Mills.

Ski coaches team up

Alpine Canada Alpin and the Canadian Ski Coaches’ Federation are working together over the summer to develop a nationwide coaching education program.

National team coaches will be providing the content for the program, which is designed to put young athletes on track at an early age.

"This renewed alliance allows us to help the CSCF with tools and support they need to realize their goals while helping strengthen an already solid base of coaching across the country – and that can only help build Canada’s ski racing program from the grassroots to the elite level," said Max Gartnger, the vice president of development programs for Alpine Canada Alpin.

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