Both the City of Leduc’s mayor and the 2015 World Sledge Hockey Challenge have been nominated for national sports tourism PRESTIGE awards.
Mayor Greg Krischke has been nominated for the Sports Tourism Champion of the Year award and the World Sledge Hockey Challenge is up for the Canadian Sport Event of the Year in group B, an event with a budget of less than $1 million.
“It feels pretty fantastic,” said Krischke, referring to what he calls a humbling nomination. “Sports tourism is really important for our city and I”m a champion of this city.”
“We need to do things that will promote our community and will bring revenue into our community,” he added.
Krischke says Leduc has been part of events that have been proven to bring $1 million directly into the city and another $800,000 to the province.
One such event was the 2015 World Sledge Hockey Challenge. “It was by far and away the best world sledge hockey event that had been held,” said Krischke.
He says teams were more than impressed by the attendance, fanfare and treatment.
Committee co-chair Janet Guthrie feels having the event nominated for the award is exciting, especially with the extra and unusual challenges faced this time around.
Awarded the opportunity to host the event only four months in advance, the committee was up against a daunting timeline. “Typically a group would have a year to two or more to plan.”
This was also right around the time the price of oil crashed, making it hard for the event to find sponsors. “We had to adapt on the fly,” said Guthrie.
Two weeks before the event Guthrie’s co-chair Gary Tremblay suddenly passed away. She says it was a blow to the committee and the entire event to lose someone so dedicated.
One of the most uplifting aspects of the event was the education and awareness brought to the sport of sledge hockey, not only for the international players but also for the local athletes as well.
Guthrie says one Team Canada player was able to visit five schools, making the sledge hockey players the stars of their school for that time period.
With more awareness, a light was shone upon the talented athletes depicting them as just that, rather than disabled athletes playing an adapted sport, says Guthrie.
From it’s nominees the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance is looking for groups able to explain their event’s community impact, economic impact, sports tourism impact and challenges.
The 2015 World Sledge Hockey Challenge is the first international event the city has hosted alone.
“We’ve generated good economic impact,” said Guthrie.
The event generated just over $71,000. Each of the three organizations that made of the committee—Leduc Minor Hockey Association, Edmonton Adapted Sports and Paralympic Canada—each took 30 per cent and the remaining money was donated to the 2016 Alberta Summer Games Committee, the National Women’s Sledge Hockey Association and the Tremblay Trust Fund, for Tremblay’s children. “He was so good at making sure everyone else’s children got to play,” said Guthrie.
The gold medal game from the event was televised by TSN and had a 45,000 viewership. “We had excellent coverage by the media,” said Guthrie.
Volunteerism was also big for the event and another shining positive. “The volunteerism, we all know it’s a really big part of Leduc culture … We had more volunteers than we had positions for,” said Guthrie.
The 10th Annual PRESTIGE Awards will be presented March 7 at the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance Sport Event Congress in Ottawa.