Luge Canada looks to bring World Champs to Whistler 

Event would move from Calgary, whose track is facing uncertainty

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Luge Canada will ask the International Luge Federation to move the 2021 FIL World Championships from Calgary to Whistler.
  • File photo by Dan Falloon
  • Luge Canada will ask the International Luge Federation to move the 2021 FIL World Championships from Calgary to Whistler.

Calgary's loss could be Whistler's gain.

Luge Canada is preparing to pitch the International Luge Federation (FIL) on moving the 2021 World Championships to the Whistler Sliding Centre at the FIL's congress on Ljubjana, Slovenia on June 14 and 15.

Calgary was initially awarded the championships in 2017, but the future of its track is currently up in the air. The WinSport track closed for renovations at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, but the project currently faces a financial shortfall and it is unclear when the track will reopen.

"We had to get confirmation from WinSport that the track will be open in 2021 and they aren't willing to do that at this point," Luge Canada executive director Tim Farstad told CTV Calgary. "We had to make the decision to move it to Whistler because we still want to have the luge championships in 2021 in Canada."

Farstad told CTV that the change-of-venue request opens the door for other tracks to bid on the championships, but Luge Canada will be aware of any challengers by June 1.

Whistler Sport Legacies president and CEO Roger Soane said he and his crew kept an eye on what was happening in Calgary and are ready to fill in if the FIL approves the switch.

"With the World Championships being held in January 2021, I think Luge Canada was looking for a guarantee that the track would be open so that they could proceed. I don't think the track operators were able to give them that guarantee," he said. "Part of our mandate is to keep on hosting these events so we jumped at the opportunity to get into this possibility."

While tracks typically have four years to prepare for the World Championships' arrival, Soane said a compressed timeline wouldn't be a major challenge for Whistler Sliding Centre to overcome. The track just went through a World Championships cycle this spring when the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation brought its best to the track, so the memories are still fresh.

"You start doing the preliminary work two years out, but really, you're going (to get started) a year out. We would miss a little bit, but if we get confirmation in July, it still gives us a good 18 months to get things in place," he said, adding that much of the sponsorship is international and would travel without issue from Calgary to Whistler.

With Calgary's track not expected to operate at all in the coming season, Whistler is likely to see some additional traffic, with or without the championships. Canada's national teams would split time between the two in seasons past, but now, Whistler will take on the "full load" in addition to hosting international teams.

"The 2018-19 season was our busiest year ever. Even (with) the Olympic season, we put more people down the track in the last season. We're expecting this to be another very busy season in 19-20," he said.

Soane added that Whistler will host an FIL World Cup in December, while an IBSF North American Cup event is in the works.

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