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Ski opportunities abound this winter

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With the deluge of snow we’ve already had, conditions are optimal to get out and ski. Whether you like whooshing down hills or gliding across the countryside, there are plenty of options for both.

Here in Winnipeg, cross-country skiers are fortunate to have some of the best groomed trails in the province, and plenty of choices for winter wonderlands. The Windsor Park Nordic Ski Centre at Windsor Park Golf Course is the crown jewel of urban outdoors. Managed and operated by the Cross Country Ski Association of Manitoba, it has a spacious clubhouse, food services, rental equipment, ski instruction, and waxing service. Nine kilometres of trails are groomed daily, seven days per week, for both classic and skate skiing. One of the most beautiful times to go is after dark, with trails lit for night skiing.

Other trails within Winnipeg include Harbour View Complex, with 3.4 kilometres of trail, skate and ski rentals, concessions, warm-up shelter, and available lessons. Assiniboine Park has eight kilometres of classic and skate trails that traverse past the Lyric Theatre, and a warm-up shelter at the Duck Pond. Kildonan Park & Golf Course has 8.9 kilometres of winding trail, while St. Vital Park’s 5.4 kilometres overlooks the Red River.  

After all that training, you can test your fitness at the 12th annual Cross Quetico Lakes Tour in Atikokan, Ont. on March 16. Dubbed by Explore magazine as one of the "coolest adventures in Canada," the event involves classic or skate skiing along frozen northern canoe routes. It’s not a race, but a unique wilderness tour offering three routes of varying distance (35 km, 45 km, 55 km). Skiers arrive Friday night for a meet-and-greet and safety briefing. Saturday morning offers light breakfast before shuttling to trailheads, with fire and hot drinks available along the trail. It all winds up with supper and social that evening.

For downhill aficionados, Asessippi Ski Area & Resort near Inglis, Man., offers 25 downhill runs for beginners and experts alike. The specially designated beginner area provides instruction for skiing, snowboarding, and snow biking, with group, private and semi-private lessons are available. Equipment rental is available onsite, and well-lit night skiing is a great way to finish off your day outdoors. Those who like less effort can play in the six-lane snow-tubing park, and afterwards, enjoy a hot meal or cold drink in the winter village.

Manitoba’s oldest ski resort is Holiday Mountain at La Rivière. It has six runs currently open, a freestyle terrain park, and brand new ziplines being dubbed as "bigger, faster and longer" than any other ziplines in Manitoba.

Falcon Ridge Ski Hill at Falcon Lake is set amidst a beautiful woodland boreal forest. It has a cozy chalet with distinctly vintage feel, and often features live music in between sessions on the slopes.

The closest hill to the city is Springhill Winter Sports Park. A mere 15 minutes from downtown Winnipeg, the hill stands at 130 foot vertical and has 10 runs. It provides skiing, snowboarding, equipment rentals, lesson, and night skiing.

RoseAnna Schick is an avid traveller who seeks inspiration wherever she goes. She is proud to have mastered Asessippi’s bunny hill one wintry afternoon, before graduating to the ‘real’ hill. Email her at rascreative@yahoo.ca.

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