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Sponsor puts Canadian lugers on Fast Track

Relationship a 'match made in heaven'By John Down, Calgary Herald
April 7, 2009

Canada's national luge team hope to be hurtling down the fast track at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics after landing a $1 million title sponsor.

It's a match made in heaven, it really is, gushed 21-year-old team member Alex Gough of Calgary, moments after Fast Track Capital.com had been introduced as the Canadian Luge Associations first title sponsor during a media conference Tuesday at Bowness Sportsplex.

It'll allow us to do all those little last-minute things we need to do with our sleds, the ability to continue to developing on the technical side and use different facilities for training, added Gough, who finished fourth at the world championships. It's a huge boost, a huge vote of confidence to have someone like Fast Track come in and support us in these extremely difficult times. It gives us a lot more security.

The sponsorship, which will put a little more than $200,000 annually in the hands of the CLA through to 2014, was landed through a unique campaign during February in which team members publicly flaunted the fact that positions on their helmets, sleds and body suits were For Sale.

I immediately went to the CLA web site after I saw the news piece on the For Sale signs, phoned Tim (CLA executive director Farstad) and said, 'hey, I want to do this', said Fast Track Capital founder and CEO Darren Weeks. Three days later I came to Calgary to see a luge race and that's what did it.

In fact, there were a number of companies willing to help out the 10-member luge team for the drive to 2010 but Fast Track was the only one willing to commit long term.

It's important to do it long term because we don't want all that hard work to drop off, added Weeks. When I commit to doing something, whether it's in business or personally in sports, it's always been long term.

Success takes time.

Needless to say, the company name is a perfect fit for a sport where athletes obtain speeds up to 152 km/h.

Obviously that was not the only reason, said Farstad. The most important thing for us was that Fast Track was willing to commit to five years. We did have some companies that were going to give us some money for this year but he was willing to commit through to 2014 and, for us, that enables us to keep our sport sustainable.

All of Canada's Olympic teams have been funded by the Own The Podium program since 2004 but no one is certain whether that will continue after 2010. With corporate sponsorship, and there's still plenty of secondary room on the athletes sleds and sliding suits, the CLA and any other Olympic sport organization, is not only able to develop a level technical and training field, but also ensure the future of the sport.

The immediate benefit is that we'll be able to make sure we have everything in place for that final push, said Farstad. That we'll have that extra coach around, the equipment we need, that everything will be ready for our competitors.

We've had to focus all the Own The Podium money on Olympians and now we'll have money to make our sport sustainable. Now we can develop some junior athletes and keep them around for 2014.

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