CANMORE – Canada's four Nordic organizations have banded together in an effort to see more winter athletes reach future podiums in their respective sports.
Biathlon Canada, Nordic Combined Ski Canada, Nordiq Canada and Ski Jumping Canada announced Thursday (July 30) that a memorandum of understanding has been signed between them to explore ways to work together to create at strategy that will assess opportunities to have a more unified approach to Nordic sports in Canada.
“Our sports represent nearly 30 per cent of the Olympic medals available, so we know that if Canada wants to be a world-leading winter sport nation, we need to consistently see the Maple Leaf raised above the podium multiple times at the Nordic venue,” said Nordiq Canada chair Jennifer Tomlinson in a press release.
“This MOU is the first critical step taken to investigate how we might grow Nordic sports in Canada both in profile and in participation. We need to have a deeper look at our development pathways, talent identification and overall high-performance programs to see how we might deliver more podium performances for Canada."
Biathlon Canada and Nordiq Canada, formerly Cross Country Canada, are based out of the Canmore Nordic Centre. Both teams have struggled to see results on the world stage during competitions.
Nordic sports represent 93 medals across 31 events at the Winter Olympics, however Canadians have only won six medals since 1924 and none since the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy. That year, Canmore residents Sara Renner and Beckie Scott won silver in the cross-country women's team sprint and Chandra Crawford won gold in the women's sprint.
Each of the four disciplines designated up to two representatives, along with one from the Canadian Olympic Committee, to sit on the newly formed Nordic Strategy Steering Committee. The committee will focus on forming and directing working groups to look at key areas for each sport organization over the next 10 months.
That work will include examining each sport's administration; participation at the grassroots level; membership; high performance athlete development and coaching development; revenue generation; and governance.
The working groups will be expected to make recommendations and propose solutions that will help Canadian Nordic sport organizations reach their goals, which includes more Canadians on international podiums, as well as more participation in each sport in general.
"All four sports face challenges, some are unique to our individual sports, but we also see that many are shared," said Biathlon Canada general manager Heather Ambery in a press release.
"As leaders of our respective organizations, we believe we can meet many of these challenges through more cooperation and coordination. The Nordic Strategy Steering Committee will explore and test the opportunities that we believe exist to make our sports stronger.”
The objective, according to the newly formed committee, is to find an efficient framework to attract new participants in each sport and develop medal hopefuls. That includes considering the formation of a unified sports organization for the Nordic disciplines.
“I believe Nordic sport participation is an untapped market across the country due to our current limitation in resources,” said outgoing Nordic Combined Ski Canada chair Andy Mah in the release.
“It is exciting to think about the potential of creating healthier and more active lives for a greater number of Canadians who discover the enjoyment of Nordic sports in conjunction with striving for excellence in our Nordic Sports.”