CANMORE – Biathlon Canada is holding a cocktail fundraiser to support athletes targeting podiums in international competition following cuts to the national program.
The inaugural Shoot For Gold fundraiser takes place Thursday (Nov. 14) from 7-9 p.m. at Canmore’s Iron Goat Pub & Grill.
The night will feature mingling with the senior national team, presentations from past and present Olympians including a keynote speech from cross-country skiing legend Beckie Scott, a silent auction, a “biathlon laser rifle” to try out, as well as cocktails and appetizers.
PyeongChang Olympian Emma Lunder, member of the senior national team, said it’s the first time she’s done anything like this since being named to the national team in 2014.
“In the past, we never had any team fees, it’s all been covered by the organization and sponsors … and this year we’re kind of at a point where they’re not comfortable running the same sort of deficit,” she said.
For the 2018-19 season, Biathlon Canada received $240,000 for its athletes out of the $21.4 million overall budget for Olympic sports from Own The Podium, a not-for-profit organization that prioritizes and determines investment strategies for national sport organizations.
Over four years leading up to the Sochi and PyeongChang Olympics, Biathlon Canada received $1.324 million and $1.25 million for its athletes from Own the Podium. For Beijing 2022, Biathlon Canada is on a projected line to receive under $1 million.
“After the [PyeongChang] Olympics, we didn’t have as amazing results, which resulted in some funding cuts, too. I would say with the small budget we have, we’re one of the smallest biathlon nations, moneywise,” Lunder said. “We still have amazing coaching, great wax support, massage, we still get everything we need. I think we’re just cautious of where we spend our money and we’re pretty careful with what we do.”
Biathlon is a sport that combines rifle marksmanship and cross-country skiing.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards the 12 national team biathletes to offset fees for World Cup, IBU Cup and junior championship races. It’s a new formula that Canadian biathletes are starting to adjust to moving forward.
“We definitely ramped up the fundraising efforts this year and this Shoot For Gold is actually led by the senior national team … so I think we’re kind of doing it as a trial year to see what kind of support we get and then hopefully we can make it a yearly event for this,” Lunder said.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.biathloncanada.ca.