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Million-Dollar Program Designed to Win More Olympic and Paralympic Medals

Canada’s Nordic Sports, Own the Podium Launch Million-Dollar Program Designed to Win More Olympic and Paralympic Medals
—Culture of excellence, information-sharing, increased training opportunities core to Nordic Consortium—

CANMORE, Alta.—Focused on winning more medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Canada’s Nordic sport athletes and coaches will build strength in numbers thanks to a new Own the Podium initiative launched on Wednesday that will bring more than $1 million in additional investment to those sports during this four-year Olympic cycle.
 
Canada’s Nordic Consortium brings together sport directors from Cross Country Canada, Biathlon Canada and Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Canada with advisors at Own the Podium, Canadian Sport Centre Calgary, WinSport Canada and the Canmore Nordic Centre to share critical research and information while identifying gaps in preparation so the nation’s top cross-country skiers and biathletes are fully prepared to achieve excellence in 2014 and beyond.
 
“Nearly 30 per cent of the 228 Olympic medals, and more than 50 per cent of the 186 Paralympic medals are awarded at the cross-country skiing and biathlon venues,” said Ken Read, director, winter sport, Own the Podium. “While we did celebrate record performances by many of our Nordic athletes in 2010, Canada unfortunately did not step onto the Olympic podium in these sports. Winning medals at these venues is critical to achieving Canada’s performance goals at the Games. The creation of the Nordic Consortium is the first critical step taken to produce more Nordic medals at future Olympic Games, and build on the strong performances of Canada’s Paralympic athletes who won five medals in 2010.”
 
Committed to building a stronger and sustainable high-performance sport system, Own the Podium spearheaded the Consortium project which has three major areas at its core: research and innovation; Sochi venue-specific projects; and ensuring the Canmore Nordic Centre continues to provide a world-class training environment for podium-targeted athletes.
 
The Canadian Sport Centre Calgary hired Geret Coyne to build upon OTP’s 2010 Top Secret Nordic venue research in preparation for Sochi 2014. Coyne will lead the Sochi venue projects where he will gather and share data that will be interpreted and integrated into equipment, training and the competitive environment. Other Sochi-specific projects will focus on course profiling, ski base development and equipment preparation. The Canmore Nordic Centre, which is home to Canada’s cross-country skiing and biathlon programs, will continue to work closely with the sports to ensure they have access to the world-leading resources and facilities required for success. The Canadian Sport Centre Calgary will also support the program by monitoring the development and implementation of initiatives identified to help Nordic athletes attain podium performances.
 
“Developing a competitive culture of excellence where Nordic athletes at all levels can come together for both short and long periods of time is key to Canada’s success,” said Tom Holland, high-performance director, Cross Country Canada. “The Nordic sports recognize the importance of contributing to the Olympic and Paralympic medal count, and we believe our athletes deserve the opportunity to have access to all of the much-needed resources to compete and win against the world’s best. The Consortium initiative is significant to helping put the nation’s cross-country skiers and biathletes back on the podium.”
 
Canada’s World Cup Nordic athletes participated in a media conference at their home training centre – WinSport Canada’s Bill Warren Training Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre – to also officially unveil the first two major projects requested by the Consortium: an indoor sport-specific treadmill; and a rifle lab.
 
Custom-designed specifically for Nordic athletes, the unique $200,000 treadmill - which has a front pivot and rear drop – can be used by two skiers at one time, and reach speeds up to 35km/hour with an elevation grade up to 20 per cent. Created by Calgary-based Treadsport Training Systems, the treadmill has an overhead safety system that is integrated with the machine. As the elevation changes, the harness helps the athlete maintain his/her position. The treadmill will serve as a key training device in readying athletes for World Cup, Olympic and Paralympic competitions as it has the ability to upload data collected on race courses to simulate specific competition venues around the world.
 
“The treadmill provides such an unique and incredible new addition to our training – be it for a controlled environment to do intensity or an isolated track to focus in on technique,” said Mark Arendz, Paralympic biathlete, who finished second on the IPC World Cup in each of the last two seasons. “It also gives me new insight into my performance.  These small discoveries on the treadmill will lead to medal performances on the snow. I can’t thank OTP enough for this game changing opportunity and support of the Nordic sports.”
 
Arendz and his able-bodied World Cup and IPC World Cup biathlon teammates will also benefit from a new biathlon rifle lab alongside the treadmill in Canmore that has previously only existed in Europe. Created by Finland’s Eko-Aims, the $50,000 shooting system, which has been used at the Paralympics since 2002, has an infrared light, sound system, camera technology, and is equipped for most biathlon rifle stocks and can be used up to 15-metre shooting distance. The system, which has a pressure mapping program to help athletes establish the ideal position for their rifles, will be critical for fine-tuning skills of the nation’s top biathletes and improve training for Canada’s future generations.
 
There are a total of 34 medals in cross-country skiing and 29 in biathlon as part of the 228 medals that will be handed out at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games where Canada has a goal of fighting for the number one position in the overall medal count. The world’s best Para-Nordic athletes will fight for 94 of the 186 Paralympic medals available. Canada is focused on achieving a top-three finish in the overall gold medal tally.
 
Own the Podium, a not-for-profit organization, prioritizes and determines investment strategies to national sport organizations in an effort to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada. Own the Podium's largest contributor of funding is the Government of Canada with additional funding provided by the Canadian Olympic Committee and its Canadian Olympic Foundation, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, along with the corporate community.
 
A national sport technical initiative, Own the Podium was created in 2005 to help Canada become the number one nation at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and to place in the top-three nations in the gold medal count at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. While Canada remains committed to being a world-leading winter sport nation, Own the Podium has set a goal for Canadian athletes to have a top-12 placing at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games, and to be in the top-eight nations in gold-medal count at the 2012 Paralympic Summer Games. Both of these initiatives reflect what Canadians want from Canada's high-performance athletes and helps advance the "excellence" goal of the Canadian Sport Policy. 
 
For a full summary of Own the Podium initiatives and programs, including a breakdown of support and services by sport, please visit us at www.ownthepodium.org on the Internet.
 
 
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

Chris Dornan                                          
Media and Public Relations
Own the Podium
T: 281-703-4394