Canmore in hunt for Russia's lost world cup races
Thursday, Jan 05, 2017 06:00 am
Canmore has launched a last minute push to bring either the 2017 youth/world junior biathlon championship in February or biathlon world cup races in March 2017 to town.
Last month, Russia’s biathlon organization returned the rights to host the 2017 world junior championships and world cup finale to the IBU following the release of the McLaren report, which uncovered widespread doping throughout the Russian progam.
The IBU said it will make a decision before the world cup races resume this weekend in Oberhof, Germany. While many European countries have offered to host the races, Canada is in the thick of it, with a decision expected by Friday (Jan. 6).
Ken Davies, chair of the 2016 BMW IBU World Cup race in Canmore, is currently in Germany meeting with IBU officials to persuade them to move either World Cup 8 or the youth/junior world championship to Canmore. Last year’s Canmore biathlon event was well received by the IBU, and Davies said the community is eager to welcome back the world’s top athletes.
“The honest assessment of the situation is that the IBU knows we can (host the races) and appreciate the offer, but they are reluctant to leave central Europe. The rub for the IBU is that we have snow and there is none there,” Davies said.
The youth/world junior world championships are scheduled to take place Feb. 21-28, while world cup races are scheduled for March 6-12.
Biathlon Canada officials have stated they realize the pitch is a long shot, but said Canmore is capable of hosting world class races.
Canmore Nordic Centre manager Michael Roycroft said the venue is capable of hosting the world cup races, and they are willing to work with event organizers again.
“From a facilities perspective, there are lots of elements to hosting a world cup. Having groomed trails and a range is only one component of hosting a world cup. Other areas are the responsibility of the organizational committee and, with such short notice, that would be a challenge,” Roycroft said.
Cross-Country Ski Nationals are also scheduled to take place March 18-25 at the Canmore Nordic Centre. While there is no overlap, the two events would see a great deal of volunteer overlap.
Meanwhile, the Alberta World Cup Society has said it isn’t interested in a world cup race this season, even after the Russian Ski Federation announced it would no longer host world cup finals March 16-19.
Alberta World Cup Society chair Norbert Meier said Canmore would be interested in future events, namely world cup finals in 2018. Quebec City has expressed interest in the 2017 race.
“The question about world cup events in Russia is very much up in the air. We are very happy to be considered for the world cups formally given to Russia, but we need lead time. We would be interested in hosting the 2018 season finale. That gives us a year. It is still scheduled for Tyumen, Russia at this time, but we will see what happens down the road,” Meier said.
Hosting such a race costs in the neighbourhood of $2 million, Meier said, and 60 days isn’t enough to secure that kind of investment. The AWCS is also hosting a ParaNordic World Cup in Dec. 2017.
“We’ve had lead times as short as eight months. That was difficult. Usually we work with lead times of two to three years. With March 2018, we have enough time, but it is a compressed schedule,” Meier said.
The AWCS has also submitted a proposal to host an early world cup cross-country ski race in 2019, which could include a season opener, or early December world cup race. Following the success of Ski Tour Canada in 2016, Meier said Canmore should be a regular stop on the world cup, and he’d love to see races return every two or three years.