Well, it took a while, but this week it really does feel like winter has arrived. With temperatures this low, it must be time to skate old favorites like Ottawa’s Rideau Canal, right? Not quite yet.
A few years ago, the Rideau Canal Skateway had to surrender the claim “world’s longest” (naturally frozen skateway) to Winnipeg’s Assiniboine River Trail.
But there’s more than one way to measure, right? Going by total surface area, Ottawa can still call its skateway “world’s largest”. The trouble with big claims, though, is that upstarts want to take your crown. Enter Invermere, British Columbia. The CBC reports that lake-side community is hungry.
The town is going to try to flood and maintain a 17-kilometre track around Lake Windermere, next to the Alberta border in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and a beautiful place to go for a long skate.
Currently, the Whiteway, as it’s called, is five metres wide. If that is doubled to 10 metres wide, the skating area would be larger than the Rideau Canal — “in essence, giving us the largest maintained ice surface on the planet,” says backer Dave McGrath.
The organizers want to get into the Guinness World Records book for the longest and largest maintained ice surface.
“We’re not naive to the work that’s going to go into it, but with the community behind us, we’re just fired up about it,” says McGrath.
Did you see that? Longest and largest. Invermere is going after Winnipeg and Ottawa. Yikes!
Here’s how the notion is playing up in local press coverage in the Invermere Valley Echo. Invermere Business Committee chair Justin Atterbury threw the gauntlet gently:
“We’re hoping to get a fun, gloves off thing going between the mayor of Ottawa and the future mayor of Invermere,” says Atterbury. “It’s all in good fun, it just creates attention, gives them something to talk about… we’re thinking really big to get ourselves on the national scene.”
Whichever city prevails, getting jazzed about healthy exercise in the great outdoors with community-building camaraderie is a good thing.
Winter isn’t for everyone. But for winter sport fans, the good times are just beginning.