You would be hard pressed to find a Calgarian who has taken advantage of the legacy of the 1988 Olympic Games more than Brady Leman.
“I got a chance to try almost every winter Olympic sport as a kid,” Leman said. “Speed skating, luge, ski jumping, bobsled, I’ve kind of done it all.”
Leman eventually landed on ski racing, a sport that has taken him to the Olympics, where he finished fourth at the 2014 Sochi Games. So it should come as no surprise the 30-year-old would love to see his home city take a shot at hosting the 2026 Olympics.
“It totally excites me. I think it would be very cool,” he said.
“We are still one of the best examples in the world, I think, of what hosting the Olympic can do for a city long term, and here we are talking about hosting it again.”
Leman is certainly not alone.
“I’m a big advocate for Calgary in 2026,” Olympic bobsledder Kaillie Humphries said.
“It’s a no brainer, in my opinion,” Olympic bobsledder Jesse Lumsden added. “It’s an absolute no brainer, it can do so much for our city, so much for our country.”
“In my mind, there’s nothing better than for this city to host an Olympic games,” Canadian Olympic luger Sam Edney said.
The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee has estimated the 2026 Games would cost $4.6 billion. With many facilities left from the legacy of ’88 still in use daily, that number is significantly less than past Olympics.
For that reason, many Canadian athletes strongly believe the Olympic movement may actually need a city like Calgary.
“The IOC should look at Calgary as an opportunity to re-establish a bit of balance, and maybe some forward thinking as to how the world has changed and how we can start re-using some of these facilities,” Lumsden, a former CFL running back said.
“The way things have been going with overspending and building for both summer and winter Games is not sustainable and it’s really sad,” Leman added. “It’s hard to be part of something when you wonder what the social cost of it is, and that’s not what the Olympics are about.”
No one understands that better than Edney, who’s watched the transformation firsthand while competing at the last three winter Olympics.
“The IOC has made some questionable decisions in the past couple years, and I feel like there’s the opportunity to tackle some things that have got out of control, he said.
“It’s blown up, it’s over inflated.”
“I think Calgary has a real opportunity to reel it back in and say this is how it can be done,” he continued. “They did it in ’88, it was kind of the game changer of the Olympics at the time, and I think they’ve got a position to do that again.
Just the idea of another home games, has many athletes doing the math.
“If Calgary gets 2026, yes, I am sticking it out as long and as hard as I can. I’ll be 40, so as long as I have a young and sprite good brakeman,” Humphries said. “Athletically though I know I’m not done, I don’t feel done.”
“Maybe I could still ski at 39 if I had to here at home,” Leman added. “I would love to be a part of it, and I would definitely be a part of it in some capacity.”
The athletes have weighed in with their thoughts. Now, it’s up the Calgary city council to make their decision.
Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) is set to present its report to council on Monday.