ave you seen the video of Canadians Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw winning this country’s first ever cross-country skiing world cup sprint gold medal?
Stirring stuff indeed. The title world champion has such a nice ring to it.
The pair, who call this Valley home, and train and compete here and around the world, did us all proud in Norway by taking on historically strong Europeans and showing them that Canada is a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.
Seeing the pair battle in and out of fog in front of 50,000 Norwegians is memorable. And Harvey’s epic double poling battle with the host country’s Ola Vigen Hattestad in the final metres of the sprint race? Truly epic.
The gold medal speaks volumes as to the pair’s dedication, training, coaching and the support group behind them. And in a small way, we in the Valley can share in their victory vicariously.
Now picture, if you will, that kind of athletic endeavour, albeit on a smaller scale, playing itself out on our very doorsteps if Banff and Canmore teamed up to host the 2014 Alberta Winter Games.
While the two municipalities are right to be cautious in investigating the cost to taxpayers of hosting a large event such as the games (estimated at $1.5 million), there is little doubt it would be a boon to tourism and business in the Valley.
Not only would co-hosting the games be a prime example of inter-municipal cooperation, with possibly 3,000 athletes, coaches and technicians, friends and family and media in our area, there is no doubt the games could prove to be a financial boon.
While we here in the Valley would possibly be privy to viewing future world-class athletes like Harvey and Kershaw prior to them hitting world stages later in their careers, Bow Valley sports venues like Banff’s new Rec Centre, the Canmore Nordic Centre, pools and alpine ski areas, along with Canadian Rockies schools, would be showcased along with the towns themselves, the national park and the citizenry.
Those who live in the Valley could look back and say “remember when” as athletes move on to greater things, while the athletes and those who support them could say “remember when” and think back fondly to when they competed in our Valley.
And having enjoyed their time in the Valley while taking part in an event like a winter games, who knows how much tourism spinoff might be garnered in future years?
For those who insist that tourism in this area can’t be successful without incorporating more events, hosting a winter games would be ideal. The games would use existing venues, they would showcase the Valley over a few short days and likely be a one-time event as other communities want their opportunity to host.
In the end, hosting of the 2014 Winter Games will likely be decided after a budget is laid out, the cost to taxpayers estimated and depending on a host group’s attracting many, many volunteers.
The good thing is, it shouldn’t be too difficult for town administrations to contact other municipalities who have hosted the games for a cost breakdown. Then it would simply be a matter of working co-operatively.
Video footage of the world cup sprint victory can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/user/VmHolmenkollen2011#p/u/0/lrI8e4ltazw – as posted on Cross Country Canada’s website.