With the conclusion of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, the organization that oversees Canada Olympic Park (COP) in Calgary says it’s going ahead with plans to decommission and dismantle two ski jumps at the hill.
Officials with WinSport said the two jumps — situated on either side of the iconic 90-metre tower — are well past their life span and are too expensive to operate.
The organization’s vice-president of sport operations, Bernie Asbell, said infrastructure was “failing miserably” and would require a full rebuild to be viable for Canadian athletes.
He added that the only jump still in regular use at COP is considered a “starter” ramp.
“For any serious jumping, the athletes actually have to travel, whether it’s to the United States for one of the jumps down there or out to Callaghan Valley in Whistler ,” Asbell said.
Ski Jumping Canada, however, said the small bowls are still heavily used by local ski jumpers, especially in the summer. Vice-chairman Todd Stretch told Global News the smaller jumps are important to the development of young athletes and that the pending closure is “frustrating.”
In 2015, the Canadian Olympic Foundation offered $225,000 over three years to keep the facilities open for training purposes leading up to the Pyeongchang Winter Games.
Now that the Games are complete, the jumps will remain open for the summer training cycle, with closure expected at the end of October. Asbell could not offer a timeline for when the jumps would be fully dismantled.
“Economically, these are very expensive operations to handle for us,” he said. “They cost on average about $500,000 to operate the jumps up there. With the volume of athletes to be perfectly frank, we just can’t afford to do that on an ongoing basis.”
Stretch finds WinSports’ financial estimate disconcerting. He believes the small bowls could be maintained for much cheaper and said the organization is taking meetings with potential sponsors in an effort to keep the jumps open.
WinSport said the main 90-metre tower would remain untouched. It hasn’t been used as a ski jump since 1990 but continues to serve the park as the starting point of its zipline.
Canada only has two ski jump complexes. A second was constructed in Whistler, B.C., for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
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