Former skier, real estate mogul to chair Calgary 2026 bid

CALGARY – Real estate entrepreneur and former alpine skier Scott Hutcheson is the first face and champion of Calgary‘s potential bid for the 2026 Olympic Winter and Paralympic Games.

Hutcheson was named chair of Calgary‘s bid corporation Thursday as the city explores hosting a Winter Games a second time after 1988.

"I‘m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves to move us forward with bidding for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games," Hutcheson said at the Olympic Oval, which is one of the legacy facilities of the ‘88 Games.

"We need to determine our vision, our mission and our values. What kind of Olympic and Paralympic Games would we be proud to host? What kind of Calgary, Alberta and Canada would we want to show the world? What do we dare dream about and can we unite our nation, our province and our city in this dream?

"We need to share information, most importantly we need to build trust."

The deadline for cities to submit 2026 bid books to the International Olympic Committee is January.

Calgary city council reserves the right to withdraw from the bid process.

Work is being done by a city project team crunching financial numbers and analysing venues, housing and transportation.

Hutcheson‘s appointment represents a significant step in the transition of bid work from the city to a bid corporation.

The federal and provincial governments and the city are splitting the $30-million cost of bid work.

The province made its contribution conditional on Calgary holding a plebiscite, which is tentatively scheduled for November.

Hutcheson‘s immediate priorities are incorporating the bid corporation, establishing a volunteer bidco board and hiring a chief executive officer, who will be another face and champion of a bid.

Hutcheson was a member of Canada‘s alpine ski team from 1978 to 1982 and a teammate of Ken Read and Steve Podborski.

He was among the first skiers to race a men‘s World Cup in Lake Louise, Alta., in 1980 and serves as the co-chair of Winterstart, which oversees the annual men‘s and women‘s World Cup races there.

Hutcheson co-founded Aspen Properties, a commercial real estate company that owns the Calgary Tower, as well as office towers and downtown parking in both Calgary and Edmonton.

He is also the chair of WinSport, formerly the Calgary Olympic Development Association, that oversees the endowment funds and legacy of the ‘88 Games.

"As a ski racer, I owe a lot back to the community for what it gave to me, but I‘ve been involved in many community boards as a director," Hutcheson said.

"I think it‘s my duty to give back to the community. I have a business background as well and a pretty successful business, so that combination of leadership and skills makes me a pretty good candidate to assist our city."

Two-time Olympic champion speedskater Catriona Le May Doan, now Sport Calgary‘s director of community engagement and marketing, says Hutcheson has what it takes to lead a bidco.

"He and I have worked together on various boards," she said. "He understands sport, he understands business.

"As he mentioned, he‘ll be one of a team. It will be a team effort and he understands that, he‘s done that, he has experience doing that.

"I believe everybody should have the utmost confidence that he is the right person in this position."

The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee estimated almost a year ago the 2026 Winter Games will cost $4.6 billion with games revenue covering almost half. But council later heard that estimate is likely too low.

"In terms of developing our fundraising strategy, we‘ll need to build out more accurate and detailed estimates for both the capital and operating costs of hosting the games," Hutcheson said.

John Furlong and the late Jack Poole quarterbacked the bid for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.

Bob Niven and the late Frank King spearheaded Calgary successful bid for the 1988 Winter Olympics.

"Through this process to educate myself on what volunteer role I‘m going to play, I‘ve leaned on John to give me some of his teachings," Hutcheson said.

"But I‘m not John and I‘m not Frank King. I‘m going to be a very different individual. I‘ll do my best to give leadership to this board."