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Ski coach builds makeshift jump at Calgary golf course so kids can continue training

WATCH: The closure WinSport's ski jumps has left dozens of athletes in Calgary without a place to train, but as Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, one dedicated coach and his team of young jumpers were out at a golf course on Saturday taking matters into their own hands.

What’s left of the snow is hard and slippery, but one determined ski group made the best of it at Confederation Park Golf Course in northwest Calgary on Saturday.

“It’s icy and it’s not entirely skiable, but for my group, we just play games and have some fun so it’s totally perfect for us and nobody’s here,” said Wes Savill, coach of the Altius Nordic Ski Club.

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Club members are looking for a new place to train. They used to be at WinSport before the ski jumps there closed — a huge letdown to both athletes and their parents.

“It’s a hard thing to tell your son or any of these kids that the one thing you really love to do and really look forward to do is now stopped,” said Colin Tanner whose son is a member of the ski club.

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Savill isn’t giving up; he has built a makeshift jump at Confederation Park so the kids can continuing training.

“It doesn’t really replace it,” Savill said. “The jump there [at WinSport] is built for ski jumping and what we’re doing right now is trying to piece together something that we don’t have there.”

READ MORE: Killing 2 Olympic sports with 1 closure: Group petitions to save Calgary’s ski jumps

The young athletes in the Altius Hopper program are good sports about their scaled-down training facility but admit they’d rather be back at Canada Olympic Park

“Because you can go off of a jump and then you can go higher and higher,” said team member Mason Tanner.

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Parents are encouraged by the coach’s dedication plus the volunteers and organizations that are trying to fill the gap left behind.

“Canmore is supporting us,” Tanner said. “At the Nordic Centre, they’re building a small jump and making snow. The parents have gone out to some of the soccer fields that are at the bottom of hills and building wherever we can figure something out.”

WinSport has said the $400,000 annual maintenance cost of the jumps is too steep.

While the little jump at the golf course may look meager, the kids are definitely eager and some of their parents are still hopeful. Ski Jumping Canada started a petition last month asking for at least three of the five jumps to remain.

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“That’s a really big loss for sure,” Tanner said. “This is the beginning of our athletes and it’s just tough to see that they won’t be able to progress.”

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