The solution to this requirement has come through the incremental funding that is being provided to Cross Country Canada from the â€œOwn the Podiumâ€ program. â€œOwn the Podiumâ€ is an ambitious program jointly initiated by Canada’s winter sports and their funding partners with the aim of optimizing Canadian success at the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics. Over the next five years, $110 million of new funding will flow into winter sport in this country, enabling sports with confirmed medal potential for 2010 to fill the gaps in their high performance programs that are presently limiting international success.
The impact within Cross Country Canada in the 2005/06 season is enormous. Among other NST program initiatives, â€œOwn the Podiumâ€ enhancements include: vastly increased sport science support; expanded funding for team camps and trips (including a full technical support team for the 2006 Olympics and Paralympics and a large team deployment to the World U-23 and Junior Championships); new equipment for the Bill Warren Training Centre; the purchase of a ski base grinder and set-up of a workshop with dedicated technician in Canmore; increased coaching subsidies for the NTDCs in Thunder Bay and Quebec; and, before the end of the season, the hiring of a Director of High Performance. In addition, CCC’s Disabled program budget has more than tripled, with a significant investment being made to recruit new athletes and accelerate their development through nationally-subsidized camps and competitions.
Funding for support to Ivan Babikov originates through the same program. For the 2005/06 season, Ivan will receive financial support at the same level as an AAP card (less the educational support component). The agreement that defines this support was signed today and Ivan will step into the starting gate for Saturday’s Haywood NorAm Canada Cup competition in Canmore wearing the Canadian team uniform for the first time. Ivan will be racing in the upcoming World Cup events under the Russian flag, as he is only able to race internationally under his Russian FIS licence until he obtains his Canadian passport. He won his quota position by topping the Continental Cup series in the United States in 2004/05.
For the balance of the current season, Ivan will race on both the Canadian and USSA domestic calendars, in order to both meet Cross Country Canada requirements and honour an existing commitment to the Subaru Factory Team. Beyond the current year, Ivan’s future on the team will depend on meeting the published selection criteria and nomination through the same process as other eligible athletes.
Cross Country Canada’s President, Leopold Nadeau, issued the following statement in recognition of this announcement: â€œCross Country Canada’s Board is extremely satisfied that a successful way ahead has been found to integrate Ivan into our program. This is a win-win solution that is consistent with the principles on which our country is founded. It speaks loudly to the values we espouse in Cross Country Canada – excellence, member-centredness, fairness and equity. Ivan will enrich our Team with his talent and drive, and Cross Country Canada will help Ivan develop to his full potential. We share the same dream of Olympic success in 2010, and our mutual prospects for achieving that goal are better as of todayâ€.