Canoe racing, snow sports enjoy high performance funding boost

Lisa Carrington celebrates
Lisa Carrington celebrates world championship success. Photo credit: Getty

Canoe racing and snow sports have emerged as the big winners from the 2018 round of NZ high performance funding.

High Performance Sport NZ has committed $36 million to international programmes for the next 12 months, with most Olympics sports midway through their build-up towards the Tokyo Olympics.

"Today's announcement provides stability for sports, athletes and coaches, as preparations towards 2020 intensify," said HPSNZ chief executive Michael Scott.

"As we approach half-time in the cycle, we have an opportunity to refine and balance investment to the aggregated needs of sports."

Canoeing is riding a wave of world championship success, spearheaded by the exploits of two-time Olympic champion Lisa Carrington, and has been elevated from a tier-two sport to tier one.

As a result, it now receives $1.9 million, up $150,000 on last year.

At this year's world sprint championships, Carrington smashed her rivals to win the K1 200m by almost two seconds, finished second over 500m and combined with Caitlin Ryan for a K2 500m silver medal.

Carrington and Ryan joined Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie for silver in the K4 500m, while Imrie and Fisher also achieved silver in the K2 200m.

The NZ women's canoeing programme has built real depth and now challenges as the strongest women's team in the world. 

Winter Olympic bronze medals to snowboarder Zoe Sadowski-Synnott and freestyle skier Nico Porteous, along with several fourth placings, have seen snow sports promoted from a targeted investment to tier two. They get $2.25 million this year, a $250,000 increase. 

"We're really excited," says Snow Sports NZ high performance director Ashley Light. "It means we can start doing a lot more work with our next generation of athletes and working down deeper into our pathways.

"It's been a long time coming - those results - and it's nice to get rewarded for delivering what we said we would.

"The results are just the icing on the cake for what has been a pretty solid programme over the past 10 years. We're pretty confident it won't just be Zoe and Nico delivering medals in the future."

Despite underwhelming results and cultural issues this year, rowing  ($5.1m) and cycling ($4.4m) are still New Zealand's most-funded sports, maintaining their previous levels.

Yachting also remains stable at $3.8m, while athletics ($3.25m) receives an extra $500,000 to integrate its Paralympics programme. 

Across tier two, equestrian ($1.8m), netball ($1.2m), women's sevens ($1.2m) and men's sevens ($900,000) also maintain their current level of funding.

Women's hockey remains steady at $1.45m, while Paralympics NZ ($2m) suffer a $500,000 drop - the amount transferred to athletics - and NZ Olympic Committee ($1.25m) receive a $500,000 boost.