Louis Riel on Ice

Sorry for the mini hiatus there. My significant other recently injured himself pretty seriously during a game of hockey, so I’ve informally donned a nursing cap and channelled my inner Florence Nightingale for the past week. He’s doing much better after some day surgery and a bit of TLC, but full recovery is still a couple of months away.

Moving along, most Winnipeggers are looking forward to taking a day off on Louis Riel Day, Mon, Feb 21. What better way to spend this holiday than to hit the great outdoors with friends and family? Skating is a wintertime staple in Winnipeg. Fortunately, there are plenty of spots to show off your sharpest edge. I have yet to try out the new skating surface in Assiniboine Park, but initial reviews are strong. It’s on my hit list of places to try. St. Vital Park is renowned for its massive skating rink on the pond, and of course, there is The Forks Winter Glacier Park and the Assiniboine Credit Union River Trail.

The ACU River Trail offers free programming for family on weekends. This Friday, Feb 18 there’s a torch light walk and on Monday, Feb 21 there is a Skate-A-Thon from 8 am until noon. More details are found here.

I went to The Forks to skate before the river trail opened, so I really got to know the 1.2 km of ice trails that wind their way throughout the majestic Forks area, connecting the canopy rink, the Olympic-sized rink by the Scotia Bank stage and the river rinks. Benches and warming shacks are scattered along the trail to take breaks or adjust laces. One of my favourite trail spots is atop the bridge, which gives skaters an incredible panoramic view of the city. One funny loop of the trail leads skaters past the Old Spaghetti Factory, where diners and skaters often exchange friendly waves. The river trail is incredible, and I can’t wait to go back to see the beautiful warming huts, but don’t miss the well-groomed ice trails! Skate rentals are available at the mini donuts shack inside The Forks Market for an affordable $2 for children/seniors and $4 for adults. Call 257.0288 or 955.8814 for group bookings. Be sure to check out The Forks website for updates on rink and trail conditions before lacing up.

Skating is a pretty cheap workout that gives your legs and cardio system a great workout. Balance is also key here, so don’t be surprised if your abs are a little sore afterward from engaging your core. Unlike other cities where it can cost and arm and a leg to go skating (NYC’s Rockefeller Centre anyone?) there are no entry fees to hit the ice. If you don’t have a pair, chances are you can borrow a pair from a similar-sized friend. My co-workers have purchased used skates at their Salvation Army and used sports stores for the kids. I received my shiny white pair as a gift, so maybe add it to your wish list for the future if you don’t want to part with cold, hard cash. If you need a spanking new pair ASAP, then take advantage of this awesome deal on skates spotted on redflagdeals.ca here.

Hockey skates are currently on sale at sportcheck.ca

Sportcheck.ca is featuring hockey skates up to 60% until Feb 28. If you use the promo code Sunkist to receive $10 off purchases of $50 or more. The $10 coupon code can be used up until April 30, 2011.

So, there you have it. There are lots of ice rinks to see and skates to beg, borrow or buy. Please share your ice skating experiences and favourite spots in the comments below. Time to hit the ice!

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