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Joint Olympic bid?

An International Olympic Committee official once said the commute from Vancouver to Whistler, B.C., for the 2010 Winter Games was "too far."

Now, the IOC says it's OK for Calgary to hold ski jumping outside the province of Alberta, should the city decide to bid on the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The bid corporation Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic combined, which is a combination of ski jumping and cross-country skiing.

But there's resistance in Calgary to giving Olympic events to another province.

City councillor Joe Magliocca invoked oil pipeline politics in chambers recently, saying the handover of Olympic ski jumping to B.C. would be "a slap in the face to the energy sector." He was referencing Alberta's desire to build a pipeline to the west coast and B.C.'s opposition to it.

Ski jumping should stay in the host city, he said.

"If we're going to host it, let's host it here in Alberta," Magliocca said. "We're paying for it and our citizens are going to be paying for it."

Debate about ski jumping's location in 2026 invariably sparks another debate about the sport's survival in Canada.

"Without renovating or building new jumps in Calgary the sport will pretty much die off," said 17-year-old Calgary jumper Abigail Strate. "It will be very hard to keep the sport going with only the Whistler jump."

In an effort to make hosting games cheaper and more sustainable, and thus attract more bid cities, the IOC now considers it a positive in a bid when a city makes "the maximum use of existing facilities and the use of temporary and demountable venues where no long-term venue legacy need exists or can be justified."

Calgary 2026 chief executive officer Mary Moran told The Canadian Press the cost of renovating the ski jumps from the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary would be five times higher than holding the event in Whistler.

Calgary jumpers feel their sport won't endure in Canada if Whistler becomes the only place in the country to pursue it. Soane admits ski jumping is a tough sell in the Whistler area.

"We have kids that love to come and try ski jumping because they see the jumps and they want to be adventurous," Soane said. "We have a problem retaining them. I don't know if it's exhilarating enough for them.

"We live in a corridor where people love to throw themselves off the mountain. There's so many options there with big air and freestyle."



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