What is the potential role of WinSport as a 2026 Olympic venue?
Since Calgary first hosted the Olympics in 1988, Canada Olympic Park (COP) has become a well-known facility for high-performance athletic training and recreational purposes. Now owned and operated by the Calgary Olympic Development Association (operating as WinSport), the facility hosts competitive and recreational athletes alike, year-round. But what role could WinSport play as a facility for a potential 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Calgary?
WinSport is currently used for a variety of winter sports, including halfpipe, slopestyle, freestyle and sliding sports (bobsleigh, luge and skeleton). While the current facilities attract athletes from across the world for training purposes, some upgrades would be needed to elevate the facility to today’s standards as a world-class venue.
The Halfpipe has the potential to host male and female events for both ski and snowboard; as for the Slopestyle course, we are assessing the feasibility of adding more vertical drop to meet Olympic standards. The freestyle area for moguls, aerial and big air events currently hosts high-profile and international competitions; however, this course would also require some upgrades to reach Olympic requirements.
Since 1988, other additions to WinSport have included four new ice surfaces (one with a feature arena and augmented seating) which could be used for training and warm ups. In 2011, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, which has the potential to be a hosting area for VIPs and the Olympic family, was opened on the WinSport campus. The sliding track is already scheduled for upgrades to its refrigeration system and the speed and length of the track. Located within Calgary city limits, WinSport would be an accessible facility for athletes and spectators.
WinSport is an example of what a sustained Olympic legacy can look like. Since 1988, the facility has become an accessible public recreation area, enabling Calgarians to participate in multiple activities through the availability of things such as infrastructure for minor hockey, figure skating, ringette, sledge hockey, a convenient skiing option and a training centre for amateur and elite athletes alike. WinSport also presents learning opportunities for Calgarians through the camps and sport programs that are offered year round.
To effectively assess the feasibility of an Olympic bid, examining current facilities is a key element in determining Calgary’s capacity for such an event. As a city that has previously hosted the Olympics, Calgary has several venues that have potential to host events again, including WinSport. An opportunity at WinSport is the ability to host several Olympic events at one venue, which reduces the logistics and security requirements created by having multiple venues. CBEC will continue to research the viability of WinSport, taking into consideration its current ability to host world class events and the necessary upgrades required to become a 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games venue.