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Canada's Rosannagh MacLennan waves to the crowd after winning the gold medal in trampoline at the London 2012 Olympics. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Canada's Rosannagh MacLennan waves to the crowd after winning the gold medal in trampoline at the London 2012 Olympics. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

With eyes on 2016, Canadian Olympic officials weigh price of gold Add to ...

After Canada’s alpine ski team failed to live up to the hype and came up empty handed in Vancouver, the sport paid a big price.

Funding for alpine skiing dropped from $8.7-million to $3.3-million between the Vancouver and Sochi quadrennials. And while all men’s and women’s alpine disciplines were given equal importance heading into Vancouver (alpine as a whole was classified two), the funding is now more focused, Mr. Read said.

Men’s speed events are classified two, while women’s speed events and men’s and women’s technical events are classified three or less.

“It hurts,” said Mr. Read, a former Olympic alpine ski racer and member of the famed Crazy Canucks.

Canadian rowers won two silver medals in London in men’s and women’s eights, but they were expected to win more – much more. Rowing received $13.9-million in OTP funding for the London quadrennial – more than any other summer sport, and about 14 per cent of the total allocated to summer sports.

Despite that medal shortfall in London, rowing officials don’t believe those funding levels are in peril. Former Olympian Adam Parfitt, now Rowing Canada’s national team co-ordinator, said program officials aren’t scrambling to figure out how to appease OTP officials when they meet in the fall.

“It’s not like we have to razzle-dazzle them,” he said. Rowing officials meet regularly with OTP brass to assess past performances, measure priorities and look at how they might do better.

It’s more like a “partnership” than a student-teacher relationship, Mr. Parfitt said. “I can see maybe some sports might feel like they’re being called to task or whatever, but I think OTP is trying to get away from that.”



Natalie Mastracci: Rowing, silver medalist in women’s eight

Is Own The Podium working?

Own The podium is a huge sponsor for rowing. We’ve had a phenomenal coach that was able to come through and work with us for the past couple of years. The biomechanics and physiology programs have really stepped up in rowing, so for rowing in general it’s great, and in London [Ont.] the program has been a huge help for us. The silver medal is proving that.

Brian Price: Rowing, silver medalist in men’s eight

Is more funding needed for our Canadian athletes?

I think it can always get better. That’s the way I always look at what I’m doing in my sport. I can always improve, even though [I won] a gold medal in ’08, silver medal here, I can still get better. And so I think that's the way we need to look at the way we provide funding for everything. It’s much better than it ever was when I first started, like 13 years ago. But I think we’re going in the right direction. We need to keep that going in the right direction. And, you know, you’re getting some of these young guys pulling out big surprises. The high jump? That was awesome. It’s working, and I think we need to keep working towards it.

Jason Burnett: Trampoline, eighth

What can Canada do to win more medals in 2016?

Canada can always help their developing athletes a little bit more. And it’s not just about funding the top-tier athletes who are bringing home medals. It’s about supporting the kids growing up.

Karen Cockburn: Trampoline, fourth

How did Own The Podium funding help the Canadian trampoline team?

It just gave us access to everything we needed. Any kind of support staff, all the latest technology to keep up with what the rest of the world has access to. It’s hard to compete against that if you don’t have the same support. Since we’ve won medals at every Olympic Games that we’ve been to in trampoline, we’ve been able to keep getting support year after year and that will continue on for Rio.

Do you think sports that don’t win those medals every year find it harder to get funding?

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