Jumping in

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:07 PM ET

The Alberta government has stepped up to ensure a soft landing for Canada's nordic teams. MLA for Calgary-Egmont Dennis Herard presented Ski Jumping Canada and Nordic Combined Canada a cheque for $150,000 yesterday to take both entities through next year's Turin Olympics.

Earlier this winter, CODA was forced to pull funding to the struggling organizations after this season. Ski Jumping chairman Brent Morrice said the cash will enable both sports to retain coaches whose contracts expire March 31.

"This will get us through some difficult times," Morrice said. "Without this money, we would have been in dire straits."

Herard, who volunteered during the 1988 Games, spearheaded the operation when he heard of CODA's funding being pulled.

"I talked with my colleagues in Calgary caucus and I said we should get 15 of us together to bridge the financing to get around the problems they are currently having," Herard said. "It took all of 15 minutes to get 15 of them to sign up. It was something they were very happy to do."

Morrice will renew the contract of ski jumping coach Ted Bafia. Nordic combined is waiting to hear whether coach John Heilig wants to return.

After the Olympics, the Own the Podium funding in place from the federal government should carry the sports to Vancouver.

"We truly believe these young athletes have the chance of representing us in 2010 and jumping and being competitive off that $40 million facility in Vancouver," Morrice said. "This will help us out and get us there." 


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