Honoured Member Ken Read reflects on '88 and looks forward to '26?
Article from Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: Calgary 2026? By Ken Read
Each winter the Calgary region hosts up to seven annual World Cup events. Another four winter sports stage World Championship or quadrennial World Cups. Alberta is home to eight of the twelve winter National Sport Organizations. Canadian Sport Institute Calgary has matured into the largest of Canada's seven Sport Institutes.
In 1981, when a fairly obscure western Canadian city called Calgary won the right to host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, none of this existed.
So much has changed on the sport landscape in 35 years. But to really understand the legacy of 1988, you need to think back to what it was like to be in sport prior to 1981.
There was no Saddledome, no Olympic Oval. The Canmore Nordic Centre and Nakiska did not exist. Canada Olympic Park was everyone's favourite city ski hill called Paskapoo. The administration of most winter sports operated out of Ottawa, under the watchful eye of Sport Canada. Calgary hosted the Brier and Skate Canada and had held the first-ever World Cup downhill at Lake Louise. The Flames were new in town, housed in the 6,500 seat Corral.
There certainly was a thriving winter sport community. International calibre Olympic talent had emerged from local clubs and programs in alpine ski racing, figure skating, speed skating and hockey. Local boosters wanted to run events to showcase Calgary, Alberta and the Canadian Rockies, to give home-grown athletes as well as other Canadian Olympic prospects and talent in emerging sports like freestyle and short track speed skating a chance to compete at home, to inspire local kids. But we lacked facilities and international experience.
So when Frank King galvanized a renewed Olympic bid from the Calgary Booster Club in 1979, he found a highly receptive audience and community.
I'm reflecting back to these early days of the 1988 Olympic bid, because it is so important to contrast what we take for granted today with what existed 35 years ago. No annual World Cups. No National Teams based in the province. Rare international events. No facilities.
It was an enormous amount of sweat equity, ingenuity and investment that revolutionized sport in Canada. We all know how successful the 1988 Games were. But the real success story started through the preparation and development as Calgary ramped up for '88.
To prepare for the Games host cities are required to stage "pre-Olympic" events in all sports. A common-sense plan to test venues, give athletes a chance to train on Olympic sites, test logistics that range from transportation to security to pageantry, to train volunteers and work with partners that would include media, sponsors and funding agencies. The investment in people - volunteers and officials - delivered the capacity and know-how to organize annual World Cup events. Result: alpine skiing, bobsleigh, luge, skeleton and speed skating now are regular stops on the international calendar, with hockey, cross country skiing, biathlon, figure skating and curling hosting major events.
Successful annual events were bolstered by a will to build training environments. National Training Centres emerged as funding became available, with National Teams centralizing their year-round programs close to these venues. Result: National Training Centres are now established at Nakiska (alpine), Canmore (biathlon & cross country), the University of Calgary (speed skating), Canada Olympic Park (nordic combined and ski jumping; sliding track for bobsleigh, skeleton & luge).
With National Teams centralized in Alberta, it followed that once Sport Canada allowed the National Sport Organizations to move their head offices to logical locations (rather than Ottawa), the administration of each sport followed the athletes. Result: Calgary and Canmore are now home to Hockey Canada, Alpine Canada, Luge Canada, Bobsleigh/Skeleton Canada, Ski Jump Canada, Nordic Combined Canada, Cross Country Canada and Biathlon Canada.
As Canada established a network of Canadian Sport Centres across the country to support our athletes, with most winter sports housed in the Calgary region, it was a natural evolution that CSI-Calgary became the primary provider to winter sports. Sport Centres are the employer of the support teams that surround athletes including exercise physiologists, strength and conditioning coaches, biomechanics, dieticians, mental performance consultants, anthropometrists, biochemistry lab technicians, physicians, physiotherapists, athletic therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists.
Working with funding partners at the federal, provincial and municipal level, WinSport Canada established the Athlete Centre within Canada Olympic Park that is now one of the leading facilities for athlete training in the world. Result: CSI-Calgary has evolved to become Canada's largest Sport Institute, now employing more than 75 professionals and working with 345 current and future Olympians/Paralympians and Pan-Am/Parapan athletes and hundreds of coaches, technicians, officials and volunteers working with sport organizations.
The steadily expanding sport expertise and availability of venues has easily accommodated the addition of new and emerging sports that were added to the Olympic program post-1988. First to be included were skeleton and freestyle (moguls and aerials), followed by snowboard (cross, alpine and half-pipe) and ski cross, then expanding to slopestyle and now big air. Result: skeleton, freestyle, snowboard, ski cross programs and events were merged into the Calgary and region sporting mix on venues that are arguably best in the world.
The circle of sport influence driven by the legacy of '88 and the critical mass of sport expertise has continued to bring even more projects with a core sport focus to bolster the sector. Result: Canada's Sport's Hall of Fame, the winter offices of Own the Podium and National Sport School; complementing sport are the Human Performance Lab at the University of Calgary and Sport & Wellness Engineering Technologies (SAIT). Expertise along with bricks and mortar have gravitated to Calgary as a centre of sport excellence.
The human factor has enormous impact. From those who are passing through, to many who came and put down roots, Calgary and area have been transformed. Many recognizable names within the sport community have come from other countries and parts of Canada. They have brought professional credentials and sporting pedigrees. Their children have joined our clubs. Their leadership and expertise populate sport boards, event committees and administration of local, provincial and national organizations. Result: Hundreds of international athletes come to Canada each year for training and competition. Canadians from across the country centralize to Calgary each year for their National Team programs. Many have elected to stay. Hundreds of sport professionals who lead and support our sport programs have been recruited from around the world and now call Canada home.
Just imagine if you can, almost none of this existed in 1981.
The business of international sport is no different than any other business sector. To remain competitive, relevant and to thrive, infrastructure needs to be maintained. Excellence is fluid, with the bar constantly raised. The medium that presents sport to the world is in flux with the expectations of digital delivery and efficient broadcast servicing a requirement for all sporting events from the World Cup level and up. We have an enormous sport business now resident in the region, so a review of existing and potential facilities and the infrastructure necessary to keep our competitive edge is a prudent business decision.
It hasn't all been sweetness and light through this journey. Mistakes have been made, but an Olympic bid is a once in a generation chance to learn, adapt and improve in the same way Calgary learned from the Montreal experience and Vancouver learned from Calgary. But on balance, without doubt, the 1988 Games have been good for the city and region, province and country and an enormous lift for Canadian sport. Even a review to evaluate a potential bid is a chance to refresh, reinvigorate, renew, redress and rebuild.
This bid is for an event 10 years from today. At the core, the focus of the feasibility study should be on where we, as a community and country, would like to see this thriving sector evolve to by 2050 and beyond. To inspire youngsters, lift the next generation of champions, transfer knowledge to new leaders and officials. At a time where diversification is high on the list of urgent needs for our economy, sport and the related sectors of tourism and communications can figure prominently.
When the IOC announced "Calgary!" in October, 1981, none of us truly imagined the possibilities. What a journey. As we now look forward, what opportunity awaits us .....
More from Ken Read's blog: White Circus - Weiß Zirkus - Cirque Blanc
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
We, at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, are deeply saddened to hear of those who have been affected by the fires in Northern Alberta. Family is very important to us and we would like to support our Albertan families.
For the month of May, we are offering free admission to displaced residents from the Fort McMurray fires (#YMMfire) with valid I.D. that has a Fort McMurray address so that they may spend quality fun time with their families.
Additionally, 100% of the funds received from admissions on Monday, May 23rd will be donated to the Red Cross to assist those affected by these wildfires.
We encourage all of our Honoured Members, fellow Museum, and Albertans to help in any way they can.
Families and friends are the heart of Alberta. We can help.
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
North of 32 Street overpass on HWY 2
Red Deer, AB
Open 7 days a week!
Monday - Friday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Monday, May 23, 2016: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Honouring Ken Newans - 30 Years of Volunteering
The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum has many amazing volunteers who help out during events, around the museum, and with special projects and committees.
Today, we recognize one of our Honoured Members and Selection Committee Volunteers; Mr Ken Newans.
Ken was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 2011 as a Multisport Builder. His contributions to sport in Alberta is diverse and long reaching. Ken has also been on the Selection Committee for 30 years, helping fill the walls of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
Ken has retired from the Selection Committee this February and they will miss his knowledge and passion for sport in Alberta.
A Short History of the Lethbridge Pronghorns
A group of university-aged ringette players toil away one-and-a-half times a week for the U of L Pronghorns. Obscurity would be an upgrade from their current stature, as the University of Lethbridge's ringette team — they compete in a university league, but are not a varsity team. It's a humble beginning, to be sure.
This is a few years in already and the team has gone from asking players to attend tryouts to cutting players. They've raised a scholarship and they volunteer for the school's Operation Red Nose campaign, which supports Pronghorn varsity athletes. This week, the team met with university athletics officials who have expressed public support of the squad. That athletic director Ken McInnes attended a game recently was a big win. That they had a meeting scheduled was another. Are these the humble beginnings of something bigger?
It is a team held together by passion, determination and a little bit of defiance. There's a chip on the shoulder of these women. There's also a love of their sport. A Canadian invention, ringette isn't "hockey with a ring" — it's more like basketball on ice. With sticks. And a ring. Members of the Pronghorns have adopted and sponsor a Lethbridge Ringette Association team and other players help out with coaching. They're planning a skills camp and they've partnered with the Lethbridge
Members of the Pronghorns have adopted and sponsor a Lethbridge Ringette Association team and other players help out with coaching. They're planning a skills camp and they've partnered with the Lethbridge Sport Council to increase their profile.Players drive themselves to games in Calgary, Edmonton — wherever they can. Trevor Hall drives in once a week from Calgary to help coach. His daughter plays on the team, and he loves the sport.
Players drive themselves to games in Calgary, Edmonton — wherever they can. Trevor Hall drives in once a week from Calgary to help coach. His daughter plays on the team, and he loves the sport.Coach Meryl McKinnon has been here since the start, pouring time, money, heart and soul into the
Coach Meryl McKinnon has been here since the start, pouring time, money, heart and soul into the endeavour. They're fighting for funding, awareness and a shot at becoming a varsity sport. But while they dream about being a fully funded Pronghorn team, their expectations are realistic.Are these the humble beginnings? Are these the humble beginnings?
The Pronghorn women's rugby team has won three national championships and beginning this season added a full-time head coach. McKinnon, a rugby player herself, knows the history of the U of L's rugby team. She knows it started with a group of passionate coaches and players. Those coaches drove the bus, bought the gear and even rented the bus. Those were some humble beginnings, for a three-time, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame team.
Those were some humble beginnings, for a three-time, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame team.
The ringette squad hopes to clear the birth canal one day. Until then, they're still incubating.
"Our girls pay to play," said McKinnon during the team's weekly practice at Nicholas Sheran Arena. They also get an ice time every other week. "And yet we still have girls who are here so that they can play ringette."
The team competes in the University Challenge Cup against teams from across Canadian Inter-University Sport. While none of them are varsity teams, many of the other programs are more-tenured and receive financial support from the school. McKinnon doesn't begrudge them that support."Some of these programs have been around for ages, like the U of A," she said. "They get support from the community, they're in cities with bigger ringette associations or they have more support from the university.
"Some of these programs have been around for ages, like the U of A," she said. "They get support from the community, they're in cities with bigger ringette associations or they have more support from the university."We're still pretty new, even though we're very competitive, we're one of the newer teams."
"We're still pretty new, even though we're very competitive, we're one of the newer teams."These Horns have come a long way in a few years. At first, it was a team which offered a spot for women to play competitive ringette. The city had a recreational women's team in the LRA, but for stronger players, there were no options. Now, the women cut by the U of L team can play on a B team while the U of L women
These Horns have come a long way in a few years. At first, it was a team which offered a spot for women to play competitive ringette. The city had a recreational women's team in the LRA, but for stronger players, there were no options. Now, the women cut by the U of L team can play on a B team while the U of L women act a de facto A team. The C team, for less competitive players, is still active.For the LRA, which McKinnon said has been very supportive, it gives girls playing minor ringette a place to play.
For the LRA, which McKinnon said has been very supportive, it gives girls playing minor ringette a place to play."There weren't a lot of options for girls who came out and still wanted to play after they turned 18," she said. "Especially for the better players. We started out just as a way to get girls playing but this year, we've got a really strong team and we had to cut some girls.
"There weren't a lot of options for girls who came out and still wanted to play after they turned 18," she said. "Especially for the better players. We started out just as a way to get girls playing but this year, we've got a really strong team and we had to cut some girls."It's grown every year."
"It's grown every year." That's the message McKinnon wants to give the university. As a U of L graduate herself, McKinnon said she's looking for a teaching job locally while also running the team. As long as she can stay in Lethbridge, she'll keep pushing. Giving up isn't an option. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I think we contribute a lot to the community and the school," she said.
Support comes not just from the players, their parents and the LRA, but proponents like U of L Rec Services program manager Bill Halma. Rugby star Nicole Ronsky also made sure to drop the ringette team into a recent Herald interview. It all helps.
"We're trying to prove something, not just by winning games," she said. "I mean, these girls go to school, they work. It's not easy but they're great about it. They volunteer their time and I'd love to see if Ken can help us out in any way."
McKinnon said her players respect the Pronghorn logo they wear on their gear. Her expectations? She said she'd love to see the roster on the gohorns.ca website. That would help with recruitment and sponsorship support. It would give the players a sense of belonging to that Pronghorn community.
It would be a humble beginning.
3 New Exhibits!
Date: November 3, 2015
Time: 11:00 am
We would like to invite you the opening of several new exhibits at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. On November 3, 2015 at 11:00 am we will be launching:
- Our new featured exhibit, “Defining Moments: The Injuries That Do Not Define Us” Featuring Honoured Members Kessie Stefanyk, Kyle Shewfelt, Duane Daines(in attendance) and Jeremy Wotherspoon, as well as athletes Deidra Dionne, Greg Baxter and Travis Brigley.
- A new art gallery “Moments that Make Us” featuring photographs by Dave Holland Showcasing National Team athletes training at the Canadian Sports Institute in Calgary
- The unveiling of the 2019 Canada Winter Games Chuckwagon.
We would be honoured if you could join us in celebrating the opening of these new exhibits showcasing sports in Alberta.
ASHFM Gains Federal and Provincial Funding
Amazing announcements today regarding federal funding for local infrastructure improvement projects. Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program is awarding nearly $340,000 to improvements to Westerner Park, the Innisfail Legion, the Delburne Community Hall, and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will be using it's portion of the grant to expand it's Collections space in order to safely house the 12,000+ artefacts in it's Collection. Project date is expected to take place in 2017, so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming announcements regarding this project!