IPC world cup planned for Nordic Centre before Pyeongchang
Thursday, Apr 20, 2017 06:00 am
The first stop this year for Paralympic hopefuls before heading into the race season and finishing in Pyeongchang South Korea will be the Canmore Nordic Centre in December for the IPC World Cup.
The International Paralympic Committee Para-Nordic World Cup is scheduled for the Nordic Centre, Dec. 8-17, and Alberta World Cup Society organizers Norbert Meier and Carly Lewis were in front of elected officials in April to raise awareness and support.
“The Para-Nordic World Cup is an important event for us at the Alberta World Cup Society,” said society president Meier. “Our goal is to host a world cup here every year, or every few years, and operate those events under the auspices of the international governing body.
“The event is delivered and executed to their standards, or in other words, to the highest standard in the sport.”
The world cup in December would include more than 100 of the world’s best para-athletes for cross-country and biathlon races – and there would be six races over the 10-day period. It is the first world cup of the 2017-18 season and a critical race for athletes to qualify for the March 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Lewis said organizing a major sporting event like the IPC races requires up to 70 volunteers and a budget of $300,000 to undertake.
“We are lucky to have a strong network of volunteers in Canmore that want to be involved with these events,” said Lewis, adding it might be smaller in scale and budget than the 2016 world cups held at the Nordic Centre, but they are “just as important.”
The Canmore races take place three months before Pyeongchang hosts the Paralympics and the races here will mean local athletes can earn points to determine their rankings heading into the 2018 games in March.
“We hope to see that translate into our local athletes qualifying and doing well in Korea,” she said. “It is a great opportunity for these athletes to inspire the next generation of athletes as well.”
Like past world cup events, Lewis and Meier said organizers would like to host parts of the ceremonies involved in the races downtown – including a welcome reception, final banquet and opening ceremonies.
Those events may not be at the same scale as world cups in the past, but Meier said any world cup is a significant event to host.
“From our perspective, this is a very significant event,” he said. “As much as it is one event, it is part of a track record and growing the capacity our community has to host events of this type.”
The Alberta World Cup Society has undertaken an economic impact assessment for all races it hosts in Canmore and this one would be no different, he added.
The event has received financial support from the province and fundraising is ongoing to host the world cup at the end of the year. Lewis also told council it would apply for event funding through the newly created council process for funding local events as well.
Meier asked council for its official support of the event and direction to administration to assist organizers in their plans.
“First and foremost, we would love your endorsement of the event and for council to say this is the right thing to do in Canmore, it is the right time and the right kind of event,” he said.
But the IPC races in Canmore will also serve as a training experience for organizers of the 2019 IPC world championships to be held in Prince George, B.C.
Meier said organizers of those races would be in Canmore to shadow organizers of that world cup and help them get real world experience in putting on a major IPC event.
“We feel privileged in a way,” he said. “We were asked to help Prince George understand what an IPC event is and we will be working as a team.”
Lewis said the logistics for an IPC event are different than other world cup events as accessibility becomes a criteria that is essential for all aspects of the race. From wheelchair accessible hotel rooms to the wax cabins and buses used to bring athletes and spectators to the event – all need to be organized within the framework of being accessible.
“We have a limited amount of wheelchair accessible hotel rooms in Canmore, so that will be a challenge in terms of who gets those rooms,” she said.