Facing a shortfall that might have impaired Canada’s alpine skiers from their goal to own the podium at the Winter Olympics, Alpine Canada has come up with a raffle that should put them over the top.

The sport’s governing body wants to sell 3,000 memberships, at $100 each, to give it the financing it needs for more training, enough staff and coaches in the run-up to the Winter Games in February. Anyone who buys a membership at www.Win20101.ca has a chance to win one of 750 prizes, which includes a ski trip with the team.

“The strategy of winning stays the same whether you have money or not,” said men’s downhiller Jan Hudec of Calgary.

“It’s a matter of whether you can implement it or not.

“This allows us to implement the idea plan for our training and the preparation leading up to the Olympics.”

Alpine Canada’s budget is about $8 million a year for the top men’s and women’s program, with about $1.3 million in taxpayer money coming from Sport Canada. Other funding sources include the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Vancouver Organizing Committee as well as corporate and individual sponsors.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk bought the first 300 memberships — saying he’d give them to family and friends as Christmas gifts — because he wanted to be involved.

“We’re all so happy watching our athletes win up there, and making you feel good about yourself, ” said Melnyk. “Then you say ‘What can I do to make sure we win?’
“We’re going to be very proud. But if you step up a bit, you’ll be that much prouder.”

Even though there’s only about three months until the Olympics begin, Alpine Canada president Gary Allan says it’s never too late to raise money.

“This is to allow us to do additional things, like additional training at Whistler at the end of January,” said Allan.

“At Whistler, you never know what you’re going to get for snow. It’s very expensive to train, we have to pay for the time. We have to house our athletes.”