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Superhero Canadian Olympians play the part for inaugural WinSport Legacy Gala

Posted on September 19, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Superhero Canadian Olympians play the part for inaugural WinSport Legacy Gala

Fund-raising initiative designed to help ease burdens of getting ready for Sochi By Ian Busby,

For the Calgary Herald September 19, 2013

Canadian Olympians dress as Super Heroes, for the inaugral WinSport Legacy Gala at Canada Olympic Park, on Thursday night.

Photograph by: Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald

When chasing down bad guys, Batman never worries if he has enough money to gas up the Batmobile.

Iron Man rarely frets over the state of Stark Industries when he’s flying around at top speed. You never see Superman even cashing those cheques from that newspaper job he pretends to have during the day.

Yet when our strongest athletes head to the start line to take on the world at the Olympics, they have come down a road where money is an object. The expectations remain the same, especially when Canadian eyes tune in to the Winter Games next February.

On Thursday night at Canada Olympic Park, WinSport Canada tried making the path to Sochi a little smoother. And for the inaugural Legacy Gala, Canadian athletes came dressed as their favourite super heroes, all with the hopes of raising some cash to aid in travel, facilities and training.

It was a fitting theme, seeing as how it will take super human effort for Canada to top the medal count from 2010 when we led the world in gold medals won. When the team arrives in Russia, they want to perform like comic book heroes, who never have to deal with cash-flow problems.

“Spider-Man does live with his parents actually,” said speedskater Denny Morrison, in disguise as the webslinger.

“That’s typical of a lot of Olympians I would say. Not many of us have a ton of money. None of us are Tony Stark. We still go out and do good in the community.”

There was no shortage of athletes willing to squeeze themselves into latex for this event, even ones who are now retired.

Gymnast Kyle Shewfelt came dressed as Batman. Speed skater Catriona Le May Doan was the master of ceremonies as Wonder Woman. Bobsledder Helen Upperton swooped in as Batwoman.

Together, they were the Canadian Avengers, fighting against obstacles so that when the time comes, the athletes will be ready to perform their best.

“Going into Russia, my worst fear is standing on the start line and going, ‘I wish I did this differently,’ or ‘I wish I could have done this a bit better,’ ” bobsleigh pilot Kaillie Humphries said through a Catwoman mask. “Nobody wants that. You do everything you can to make sure that’s not the case.

“It’s all about the little things. Making sure I have the proper therapist for me to be successful and that those therapists can travel year-round with us on tour.

“We have to make sure our equipment is there, that it is world leading. I’m always pushing to find what’s better and what the rest of the world has and then having the funds available when it’s time to get them.”

Humphries didn’t exactly pick a cheap sport. An Olympic bobsled can run around $180,000, while a quality set of blades go for around $10,000. Fortunately for the Canadian team, those costs are picked up by a sponsor.

Shipping those sleds around the world to compete is another story.

“For example, Jenny Ciochetti is the Canada 2 pilot. She’s funding her own way to Sochi for two weeks (this fall for a training camp) because the federation didn’t have enough money to send her,” bobsledder Jesse Lumsden said.

“Justin Kripps is the No. 3 pilot for us and he’s trying to do that right now. We can’t afford to send everyone to Russia. In a sliding sport, run volume is so key to success. It’s so difficult.”

Lumsden knew what he was getting into when he took up bobsled after injuries derailed his CFL career. He’s one of those athletes that maybe doesn’t need that much help, but he came dressed at Thor last night to support his team.

Some of the money will go toward paying for facilities. In an Olympic year, the sliding teams need the Ice House open as early as possible to improve starts. A few extra runs down the bobsled track wouldn’t hurt either.

If all goes as planned, the next six months will be completely focused on training and peaking at the right time, instead of peaking at the bank account and wondering if the money will hold out.

“Fundraisers like this help remove those financial barriers so that we can train every day,” Morrison said. “Hopefully we can reach our potential coming into Olympic seasons like this.

“You aren’t really focused on winning Olympic goal so you can get sponsorship money. It’s more about making Canada proud.”

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Categories: In the Spotlight, Season 2013- 2014, 2014 Sochi Olympics

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