Funding push reaches fever pitch for biathletes
Thursday, Sep 05, 2013 06:00 am
Think for a moment about your job. Think of the long hours, the hard work, the co-worker hassles, the struggle to get ahead.
Now, imagine if you want to keep your job your boss tells you that you have to be the best in the country. Your boss also tells you if you want to keep your job, you have to be among the Top 30 in the world, and strive to reach the Top 3 against a highly-trained, well-funded opposition.
As for salary, that’s now gone. On top of that, you now owe your employer $6,500 for the privilege of wearing their uniform. Plus if you falter, there’s a group of younger, hungry go-getters ready to steal your job.
That’s the situation facing Canada’s national biathlon team as it strives for gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. In order to help alleviate the financial burden, two more of its athletes are turning to crowd-sourcing to fund their Olympic dream.
Brendan Green and Rosanna Crawford are two of the team’s most promising athletes. They’ve also been dating for four years, attended the Vancouver Olympics together and are using the Pursu.it website to help send them to their second games.
“It was so successful for our teammate Megan (Imrie). She told us we should apply for it and we thought we should try something different and give people a good reason for people to donate.”
Pushing themselves as Canada’s Olympic biathlon couple, Crawford’s father Glenn filmed the two at the Nordic Centre and the TransAlta power plant in their pitch for $13,000. Pursu.it loved the idea, stating they’ve never had a couple pitch before, and asked them to play up the relationship angle.
It was something they were happy to do.
“We’re pretty open and can welcome Canada into our relationship,” Crawford said.
The two often train together and love the fact they come home every day to someone who understands their hopes and dreams.
“Rosanna has been a huge help. She’s been my rock. (After my injury), there were days I could barely walk. She’d get me out of bed and helped me with all of my meals. When I got back to training, she was with me on my first day back on skis,” Green said.
“It’s so great to be with someone who understands the dedication, who understands why we have to go to bed at 9 p.m., why we work so hard to be the best. And Brendan’s so great with technique, he can give advice,” Crawford said.
Crawford has already qualified for Sochi, while Green needs one more Top-30 performance on the World Cup tour to earn his spot. He missed most of last season recovering from a back injury, but has tested well this summer. They need the funding to pay for their team fees ($6,500 each), and will also have to pay $3,500 each to represent Canada on the World Cup tour after Christmas.
“With Brendan’s back, he needs physiotherapy once a week so he can train to his full potential. The funding is peace of mind, so when you’re on the start line, you can simply think about your race, not that you have to go to work afterwards,” Crawford said. “With physio, massage therapy costs, and I bought a new stock for my rifle this year, day-to-day costs add up.”
Green and Crawford both received funding from CANFund this year, and are carded athletes as well, which supplies about $18,000 a year for living expenses.
“This year being an Olympic year is more stressful than most. If you can take away the financial burden, it helps out,” Green said.
On the track, both are thriving. Crawford has hit her stride and set a new course record on the team’s double pole test up Silvertip.
She had a 12th place finish on the World Cup last year, and is poised to crack the Top 10 – hopefully in Sochi. Green was arguably Canada’s top biathlete before he injured his back, and is testing faster this year than ever before. He’s cracked the Top 10 on the World Cup – and that was with a broken back.
“I’m happy with the way things are going. My back is coming along without too many setbacks. I’m certainly not 100 per cent, but I’ve had glimpses that my form is pretty good – it’s the same, if not better, than before the injury,” Green said.
Crawford is following in big sister Chandra’s steps, where she’s making big improvements at exactly the right time.
“It’s been a really good summer. I’ve made some big gains, and seen some improvement already,” Crawford said. “I see a Top-10 finish a big possibility and it would be great to have a perfect race at the Olympics.”