Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Snow has sledders stoked

Last winter just a bad memory now

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After last year's bare and balmy winter, the snowy, frigid weather of late has sled-starved snowmobilers in southern Manitoba stoked.

"It's 100 per cent better than this time last year," declared Alan Butler, president of Snoman Inc.

"Last year was the first year we had no snow in the southern part of province," said the head of the umbrella group representing Manitoba snowmobile clubs.

"This year, with the early snow in November, everybody is wound up," said Butler.

"A lot of our clubs have trails open," he said.

The Foxwarren resident said he was looking forward to getting out on his sled today for a typical 160-kilometre trek -- although that was far from typical last year.

"We like to think that was the oddity and not the norm," said Butler. Rather than dwell on the gloomy prospect of climate change, the snowmobiling enthusiast chooses to revel in the current cold and snow.

"The weather in the next week is ideal for snowmobiling." Daytime highs around -12 Celsius are good for riding and grooming trails, he said.

"It's comfortable to be outside yet it's cold enough to keep the snow" in good shape for sledding.

Most but not all trails in Manitoba are open he said. "We could do with a bit more snow."

He said the ground is white south and west of Brandon but the snow is minimal.

"Once you get north of the No. 1 Highway, generally, conditions are good."

In most areas where trails aren't open, there's sufficient snow on the ground to ride -- as long as people respect landowner's rights, he said.

And don't drink and drive, said RCMP Const. Miles Hiebert.

"As with any motorized vehicle, it is an offence to operate a snowmobile or any other off-road vehicle while impaired," he said.

The RCMP does conduct snowmobile check stops throughout the winter, he said.

"Every year in Manitoba there are a number of snowmobile fatalities, some of which can be attributed to impaired operation," he warned.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 30, 2012 A5

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