Canadian Bobsleigh and Skeleton teams on thin ice
The image of exultant skeleton racer Jon Montgomery winning Olympic gold in Whistler is one seared in the minds of Canadians.
Less than two years later, the Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton team hasn’t been able to scare up a title sponsor.
As a result, Montgomery and World Cup champion Mellisa Hollingsworth will be in Toronto to bang on corporate doors on Thursday and Friday. As Wednesday’s press release states: “Olympic Skeleton Medallists Scream For National Attention In Toronto.”
It appears that desperate.
The thing is a splashy announcement will be made in Montreal announcing new funding for Own The Podium at the same time as a memorandum of understanding is signed with the Canadian Olympic Committee, but corporate funding remains a huge part of the equation. Without it, you can expect Canada to plummet in the rankings.
VISA was the association’s title sponsor since 1992 and is helping with a transition period, but the big fear is that the talent and depth built up over the last few years with the help of unprecedented corporate support will now fall by the wayside.
The Canadian bobsleigh/skeleton team was a huge success at the 2010 Vancouver Games, as Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse won gold and Helen Upperton and Shelly-Ann Brown took silver in the women’s two-man bobsleigh and Lyndon Rush drove Canada to bronze in the men’s four-man bobsleigh. Canada has won eight medals total in the events at the last two Winter Olympics.
Canada is competing against the likes of Germany, which has huge government and corporate support and build their own sleds. The Canadians have been experimenting with some skeleton sled building of their own, research that will go for naught without the proper backing.
Simon Says Launch: Simon Ibell, formerly athlete relations and communications manager at Right To Play, recently launched his new website www.ibellieve.com to raise awareness in his fight against the rare disease Hunter syndrome, or mucopolysaccharidosis II (MPS II).
Ibell counts many of Canada’s top athletes among his good friends including Steve Nash and cross country star Beckie Scott and was able to enlist them to wear “Be Fair to Rare” scarves to generate interest on Interantional Rare Disease Day.
Ibell is a charismatic guy with an incredible story (You can read the feature the Star’s Megan Ogilvie wrote about him here.) He certainly bears watching as he continues this important work. Word is he might even be speaking before the United Nations in the near future.