By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
At a Jan. 15 news conference, Joseph Schow, Alberta’s Minister of Tourism and Sport announced six upcoming international and national competitions that will feature 800 athletes from more than 25 countries. Schow, who serves as MLA for Cardston-Siksika, was at WinSport Canada Olympic Park with a local MLA and the WinSport president to break the news.
The trio announced the following international and national sporting events that have been scheduled between now and the end of March:
International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) Ski Cross World Cup – Kananaskis (Jan. 18-21)
FIS Cross-Country World Cup – Canmore (Feb. 8-13)
FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup – Calgary (Feb. 15-17)
International Speed Skating Union Championships, single distances – Calgary (Feb. 15-18)
Scotties Tournament of Hearts – Calgary (Feb. 16-25)
BMW International Biathlon Union World Cup Final – Canmore (March 14-17)
The economic impact of hosting the events should bring in millions per event, and solidify the province’s reputation as a premier host and attractive travel destination for international visitors. Eric Bouchard, MLA for Calgary-Lougheed, was present for the announcement and said, “Supporting these major sporting events is not only essential to our province’s economy, but they bring communities together while inspiring our youth to get outdoors and try new sports. With Calgary and our Rocky Mountains on display across these six events, it will help our province attract new visitors from around the world and put Alberta on the map as a premier destination for tourism and sport.”
The Ski Cross World Cup is a five-day international event receiving $250,000 from the government and is being held at Nakiska in Kananaskis Country. The area is known for its scenic setting and for hosting a variety of events during the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Schow said,”Supporting world-class sporting events is about more than just creating successful tournaments and vibrant communities. It’s about building a legacy of sport infrastructure, providing opportunities for local athletes and driving economic growth and tourism.”
An accompanying news release noted that in 2023-2024, “the government is providing $2.5 million in funding through the Major Cultural and Sport Event (MCSE) grant to support sport events across the province. Through the grant, Alberta’s government has committed more than $1 million to help support six international and national competitions. These are a sampling of the many events funded annually through the MCSE program and span a diverse range of winter sports, including ski-cross, cross-country skiing, biathlon, snowboard halfpipe, speed skating and curling. The six events are estimated to have a total global viewership in the tens of millions across 80 countries.”
“The MCSE provides funding of up to $250,000 to eligible sport events for costs associated with hosting national and international scope competitions, including facility rentals, venue enhancements, promotional and marketing campaigns, broadcasting, and ensuring top-notch accommodations for athletes and attendees,” the release said.
Barry Heck, president and CEO of WinSport said, “We are incredibly proud to showcase the world-class facilities at WinSport as we gear up to host several premier events, including the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup and the prestigious Scotties Tournament of Hearts. WinSport has a rich history of hosting successful events, and we are excited to not only showcase the talent and skill of the athletes but to highlight the unparalleled quality of the facilities at WinSport.”