'Not a whole lot of fun': Manitoba winter sports lovers hoping for more snow — and soon
Mild temperatures leave ski, snowmobile shop owners awaiting wintry weather
Cold and snowy weather can't come soon enough for Manitoba's winter sports lovers: The season's mild temperatures continue to leave ski and snowmobiling trails bare.
"[It's] not a whole lot of fun." said Brian Burke, an avid cross country skier and owner of Olympia Cycle and Ski in Winnipeg. "It's a short ski season to begin with, so it'd be nice to have snow soon."
The lack of snow is also putting a damper on some sales at his store, Burke says, noting his customers often wait until cold temperatures and snowfall starts before they buy warm jackets and cross-country ski gear.
"Winnipeggers need to see both," he said, adding if they don't, "people will put it off till next season."
Yvonne Rideout, executive director of Snoman, also known as the Snowmobilers of Manitoba, is also hoping to see snow in the upcoming forecast.
She says the non-profit, which represents 53 snowmobiling clubs and maintains more than 13,000 kilometres of trails in the province, is making sure trails are ready for use once the snow falls.
"We certainly want to get the snow. We're asking everybody to have patience with us," she said.
Rideout says snowmobilers can look at an interactive map on the organization's website to find out when trails are open. They can also buy a $150 annual snowmobiling pass.
"Keep your eyes to the skies and let's hope for snow," she said.
It's not unusual for trails to still be closed this time of year, Rideout says. Most don't open until the second week of January and usually stay open until the end of March.
She says it's also good that the province is seeing some frost, which freezes the ground and makes it easier to groom trails.
"Sometimes we get the snow, but then we don't have the frost. So we're glad we're getting the frost now before the snow," Rideout said.
For Mitch Ruth, a snowmobiler and sales worker at Headingley Sport Shop in Headingley, about 20 kilometres west of Winnipeg, the lack of snow isn't something to be too worried about, since the seaon is just beginning.
"It's early. The cold weather's gonna come. Ice is freezing right now," he said, adding that he usually doesn't start riding until the end of December or early January.
Ruth said Manitobans can always find places to ride, whether it be Hecla Island, Sandilands or Kenora.
"There's always places to go within an hour or two hours," he said.
In the meantime, Ruth says, he's keeping an eye on the forecast and his fingers crossed: "I'm not worried yet."
With files from Jim Agapito