World-class facilities provide lasting Olympic legacy for Calgary
More than 25 years after the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games came to a close, the legacy of the Games lives on through many of the sports venues that were built especially for the event.
Today, world championships and World Cup events are still held at Canada Olympic Park and the Olympic Oval, while the Olympic Saddledome is home to the Calgary Flames NHL team.
The long-term success of the facilities is due, in part, to the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) – now known as WinSport Canada – which was tasked with managing and operating many of the venues after the Games.
This included the foundation of the Canadian Winter Sport Institute, which has helped nurture the next generation of Winter Olympic stars, including two-time Olympic skeleton competitor Lindsay Alcockm who got her first taste of the sport while working as guide at Calgary’s Olympic venues.
"I'd never even heard of skeleton before getting that summer job," said the 2004 World Championship silver medallist. "And if there wasn't a programme like the one we have here, I never would have gotten this far."
Although the host nation failed to win a gold medal at the 1988 Winter Games, the event and the facilities it brought have helped establish Calgary as an elite training hub for Canadian athletes, which has increased their standing on the world stage.
Since 1988, Canada has won an increasing number of medals at each successive Winter Games, culminating in a 26-medal haul in Vancouver in 2010, which included a record 14 gold medals.
"Prior to 1988, we were never an international power at the Winter Games," said CODA spokesperson Chris Dornan in 2008. "Now, we're medal contenders in every sport. We no longer show up happy to wear the uniform. That more than anything is the legacy of Calgary."
With the 2014 Olympic Winter Games soon set to get underway in Sochi, where many of the newly built venues will also provide training facilities for future generations, Russia will be hoping to inspire more young people to even greater sporting success may also be able to look forward to increasing success on the international winter sports stage.