State of ski jump facility at Winsport Canada an embarrassment, says city councillor

If you drive through Calgary on Highway 1, you can't miss it.

It's one of the city's most visible legacies of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.

The ski jumps at Winsport Canada.

But, take a closer look and you might notice the facility has seen better days.

The spectator bowl where 100,000 people watched Olympic medals being won is now overgrown with weeds and rusted place markers of where benches used to be.

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There's graffiti.

And the judge's tower? Well, looking at it from the coach's platform, Todd Stretch, the president of Ski Jumping Canada, says it's locked.

"WinSport has told us it's quarantined, so we're not allowed. I don't know if it's quarantined or not but I would err on the side of caution and safety," he said.

Stretch says more than 10,000 training jumps will happen there this year, but there hasn't been an international competition in years.

The 120 metre tower — the biggest jump — has no running water or electricity.

CBC News reached out to former Canadian Olympic ski jumper Horst Bulau, who lives in Toronto, with pictures of the complex.

"It's definitely sad, I can tell you that, it's very sad to see," Bulau said

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Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu drove to the site to see it for himself and calls it an embarrassment.

"I would think so," he said. 

"I encourage everyone who has time ... have a look for yourself what this place looks like."

It is WinSport Canada's responsibility to keep it running, but upkeep costs hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Most of the bills have fallen on the shoulders of Ski Jumping Canada.

"Thirty years ago, the jumps and this area, it was like a new house and after you've lived in a house for 30 years, it's going to need some renovation and upkeep," Stretch said.

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Stretch says Ski Jumping Canada takes some responsibility for the state the section is in.

"We try to bring in sponsors and assist WinSport where we can," he said.

"It does take funds in order to run the bobsleds and the ski jumps and the luge and the freestyle, and there are costs with that and from WinSport's perspective for quite a few years. Financially they're not in a great place, so they look for areas that they can cut and we're a cost to WinSport."

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The ski jump complex is slated to be decommissioned on Oct. 31, although what that entails still hasn't been made clear.

However, if Ski Jumping Canada can find the operating costs for two years by the Oct. 31 deadline, along with the required capital to bring the jumps up to standards, WinSport will operate the small jumps, the K18, K38 and K63.

CBC News reached out to WinSport about maintenance efforts over the years, but didn't receive a response.