For years, the biggest issue at our annual NST athlete meeting has been the lack of European race opportunities, particularly World Cup starts, for developing athletes. This has resulted in no new additions to the World Cup Team since 2011 and this year there are no women on our World Cup Team.
As National Team athlete reps, Jess and I pushed the High Performance Committee to create more opportunities for our next generation of World Cup skiers. Cross country skiing is a European sport so to get the experience to get to the next level we need to race in Europe! Jumping onto the World Cup and having immediate success is rare and most of us require a period of time to become comfortable and gain confidence before we start getting those breakthrough results. Finally, this year more opportunities have been created and more World Cup quota spots will be filled with developing skiers!
But... here is the bad news: there is no additional funding for these trips. Now we find ourselves in the situation where the opportunities are there but a development athlete that has a successful season could easily pay over $10,000 in trip fees. This is on top of normal training centre/club fees (at least $10,000), living expenses and other costs. Most skiers have expenses that exceed $30,000/year. Those of us lucky enough to get National carding have an income of $18,000/year plus whatever additional income we make from generous sponsors. Some athletes are doing better than others with varied provincial funding but none of us are making money and most of us are still relying on family and personal supporters to cover our deficit. Add an extra $10,000 in fees and we're getting into dangerous territory. We may be able to get away with this model for 1-2 years but we're going to burn out our athletes and become a sport that is only for the wealthy.
Individual fundraising is an option but I have seen the behind-the-scenes setup of crowd-sourcing campaigns and it is not an easy task. It takes courage and vulnerability to put your finances and struggles on display for the world to see. It can also be time-consuming and stressful to create and manage a campaign. I don't want to see all our skiers resorting to crowd-funding websites to cover their costs.
The Canadian cross country ski community is so incredible: the volunteers that set up our race courses at 5am, the clubs that happily host annual races, the love that every single athlete has for their home club, and the excitement of the crowds watching World Cups in Canada.
|Larch Hills: my favorite ski community!|
While I hope to qualify for some trips and benefit from the fund, that is not my main drive for promoting it. I don't want cross country skiing to become a sport that is only possible for the wealthy. I want all young skiers to look at cross country skiing and be excited to be part of a strong community that supports and nurtures its talent. I want them to believe that it is possible to become a World Cup skier. I want a strong female World Cup Team! I want our promising skiers to learn from the experienced members of our World Cup team. I truly believe that we have future World Cup medalists in our development stream and we need to support them before they get disheartened and choose to move on from skiing.
I am so grateful to CCC for believing in this concept and providing the structure and reach to ensure success. Please, please donate if you can and spread the word throughout the ski community! Let's build our World Cup team of tomorrow together!
|2009 B-Tour trip in Italy. I count 7 Olympians and 1 World Cup medalist, and almost everyone has scored World Cup points!|