A longstanding sports tradition in Kelowna is in jeopardy of being put on hold.
Due to a lack of funding, organizers of the Ski2Sea Race may be forced to cancel the 34th edition of the multi-sport event, scheduled for Sunday, April 14.
Ski2Sea—a six-stage, 95 km race from Big White to City Park—lost its major sponsor after the 2011 race and has been struggling to make ends meet ever since.
Between insurance fees and the purchase of T-shirts, the event costs a minimum of $17,000 to stage.
Ski2Sea president Sue Keast said the local race is in dire need of sponsorship dollars.
“We used to get $10,000 from our main sponsor, but they had to leave us last year,” said Keast. “We ran last year’s race on our savings, but we’re not going to be able to do that again. I don’t believe we’ll be able to go forward this year without new sponsors.”
Keast said Ski2Sea is grateful the support from all of its sponsors in the past, including Interior Savings which served as a platinum sponsor for more than 30 years.
Between resignations and people moving away from Kelowna, the race committee is also in need of at least five new directors to help keep the race running efficiently.
The Ski2Sea Race has been run every year in Kelowna since 1980. Teams feature from one to six athletes who compete in six events in a relay format—downhill skiing, cross country skiing, mountain biking, road biking, running and canoeing.
As many as 111 teams and more than 600 people have competed in past Ski2Sea events.
Along with support staff, volunteers, family and friends, the race typically can involve upwards of 2,000 people.
If the 2013 race has to be cancelled, Keast believes it will be a big loss for the community.
“It’s an event athletes in our community have come to enjoy and depend on, whether they’re recreational or competitive athletes,” said Keast. “It’s great for our city, too, people come here to stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants.”
The Ski2Sea committee will hold a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 29 to discuss its options.
Keast expects the directors to make a final decision on the fate of the race by the middle of February.
“We’ll see by Valentine’s Day if there’s enough love out there for our race,” Keast said.
For more information on the Ski2Sea Race, including sponsorship opportunities, contact Sue at 250-763-1354, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org