CBC cuts hit airwaves hard

ALISON KORN

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

I know money's tight and the CBC has to prune its costs, but still many in the amateur sport community were aghast this week to hear of the cancellation of the unique sports radio program, The Inside Track.

It's an unusual sports broadcast in that you won't hear any of last night's game scores. Instead, the award-winning program is a mix of documentaries, interviews, and commentaries put together on a minuscule budget by just two people -- host Robin Brown and producer Mark Crawley.

There's a campaign now on among athletes, fans and listeners to write in to the head of CBC Radio, Denise Donlon, and ask that the show, now in its 24th year, be saved. Have a listen on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 and judge for yourself. Its last show is slated for June 28.

Bravo, Joannie Rochette

An update to my story last week recognizing top athletes who make the effort to become bilingual -- add figure skater Joannie Rochette to the list.

Rochette, 23 of Ile Dupas, Quebec, won silver at the ISU world figure skating championships in Los Angeles last weekend. She's the first Canadian in 21 years to medal in the ladies discipline at the worlds since Elizabeth Manley won silver in 1988.

A few years ago, Rochette's English was limited. Part of her prep for 2010 has been to work on becoming more bilingual, and already it's paying off -- Rochette's English has improved to the point where she now gives a good interview in her second language. Bravo.

Proud of Chan

It's often said that Toronto pales as an Olympic incubator compared to Quebec or Calgary, but the Granite Club in the heart of the city now is preening, justifiably, after its star figure skater Patrick Chan scored a world championship silver medal last week -- in only his second worlds appearance.

Chan, 18, is the second youngest male skater in history to finish in the top two at the world championships.

"He's definitely a local hero now and it's wonderful to have him at the Granite Club in Toronto said," choreographer Lori Nichol said. "The kids here see him on the ice. Having him around makes their dreams of skating success seem that much more possible. It could be them standing on the podium."

Chan trains with both Nichol and ten-time Canadian dance champion and world champion, Shae-Lynn Bourne. The club is planning a celebration for Chan's return.

More GTA success

Here's another sport that has strength in the GTA: Synchronized figure skating. Two area clubs are headed off to represent Canada at the world synchronized skating championships in Zagreb, Croatia, April 3 and 4.

NEXXICE, coached by Shelley Simonton Barnett at the Burlington Skating Centre, are three-time Canadian champions and won bronze at the world championships in 2007 and 2008. The second entry for Canada is Black Ice from the Upper Canada North York Skating Club, coached by Cathy Dalton.

A team sport, synchronized figure skating consists of 12 to 20 figure skaters skating on the ice together as one unit, performing a program set to music.

Ski jumpers stay strong

You've got to admire their perseverance and savvy use of the media. The women's ski jumpers have asked the IOC for a meeting, again, after their last request got them nowhere.

This week they fired off another letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge, signed by U.S. world champion Lindsey Van on behalf of the 15 jumpers pursuing a court case to participate in the 2010 Olympics.

"We know we have ruffled some feathers by seeking legal recourse," wrote Van. "We are very confident that the Canadian judicial system will see that excluding women ski jumpers while allowing male ski jumpers on publicly funded facilities is simply wrong."

Van urged Rogge to resolve the issue before the court date set for April 20, noting: "We have not had any meaningful conversation with anyone from your organization and we have made numerous overtures."

ALISON_KORN@HOTMAIL.COM


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