As a Calgarian who is spending the year in western Massachusetts, I would like to comment on an article from Calgary by Post writer Angus Phillips, which was reprinted in the Berkshire Eagle Feb. 24.

It is quite true, as the article stated, that both the Olympic ski jumping and the downhill skiing events took place in regions notorious for high winds and a shortage of snow. Calgarians have always known this, and many were critical at the outset of the choice of sites. The ski jumping was on the edge of the city at a ski area (Paskapoo) popular only because of its nearness to town. Mount Allan (or Nakiska), where the downhill events were held, is 60 miles or so away on the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

The best place to have held both events would have been at Lake Louise, slightly more than 100 miles west of Calgary -- an easy two-hour drive on a divided highway -- and 34 miles from Banff. Lake Louise has many superb ski runs, usually has plenty of snow and is generally free from high winds. It also has a large hotel, the Chateau Lake Louise, and several smaller ones. Lake Louise has always been popular with serious skiers throughout Canada and much of the United States.

Certainly if the Olympic organizers had decided to hold the games there, they would have needed to do less work than at Mount Allan, which had never been used for skiing before. Millions of dollars might have been saved.

Why, then, didn't they so decide? Yes, they were prompted by greed, as the article stated, but also by politics. Lake Louise and Banff are in Banff National Park and thus under the jurisdiction of the federal government. To have held the games at Lake Louise would therefore have meant giving the federal government a much bigger slice of the pie. The Olympic organizers and the government of Alberta were determined to see that this did not happen, even if it meant choosing less desirable sites.

As almost all Calgarians know, the farther east one goes from the national park boundary toward Calgary and the open prairie, the more the snowfall diminishes and the more likely the winds are to pick up. As one approaches the eastern slopes of the mountains, signs on the Trans-Canada Highway warn motorists of "Gusty Winds."

There is in Canada an everlasting power struggle between the federal and provincial governments, and in this case the Olympic Games were the victim.


Stockbridge, Mass.