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This article was published 10/1/2009 (4234 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The insult, issued by an Ottawa reporter, is the latest in a string of back-and-fourth snubs over which city's skate trail reigns supreme -- Winnipeg's hand-shovelled path that captured the title as the world's longest, or Ottawa's Rideau Canal, which has World Heritage status and is dubbed the world's largest skating rink.
An Ottawa Citizen reporter mocked Winnipeg's opening of another stretch of skating trail this week, calling it "scrawny-ass," and offered his tongue-in-cheek suggestion for next winter.
"Next winter in Winnipeg, why not dump a few vats of food colouring along the length of the Assiniboine River Trail? Then you could promote it as "the world's longest Mr. Freeze frozen treat" which is what it resembles in width, said the article.
Clare MacKay, spokeswoman for The Forks, laughed off the comments and issued a challenge to the reporter and anyone else who doesn't believe Winnipeg's trail is up to snuff.
"It's not only the longest but also the most beautiful so I would challenge them to come skate it," MacKay said.
Last year, Winnipeg's skating trail promoters were dubbed "dweebs in snowsuits" by their Ottawa competitors.
MacKay said the friendly rivalry is good for both cities and expects it will continue in years to come. Although Winnipeg's trail isn't as wide as Ottawa's, MacKay said there's room for both top-notch winter skating destinations.
In 2005, Ottawa's skateway, which is maintained by the National Capital Commission, became the Guinness World Record holder of the largest naturally frozen ice rink. When the entire rink is open, the 7.8-kilometre path is equal to 90 Olympic-sized rinks.
Winnipeg captured the Guinness World Record title as the globe's longest outdoor skating rink last year, when its 8.5-kilometre skate trail extended from The Forks along the Assiniboine River to Assiniboine Park.
MacKay said she expects the skating trail will smash its own record this year and officials anticipate it will reach 9.3 kilometres by Jan. 23.
A total of 4.1 kilometres of Winnipeg's river trail is currently open.
"We think our trail being the longest is different than the Rideau Canal and we think there's room in this country for two amazing places," MacKay said.
Jean Wolff, spokesman for the Ottawa-based NCC, said he thinks the rivalry is propagated by media, noting no one from the NCC has been involved in name-calling. Wolff said the publicity is good for both cities, however, and encourages Canadians to get outside and enjoy winter activities.
"We don't see a rivalry, we see unity, we see a link between ourselves and Winnipeg in celebrating what is most interesting to the most Canadian of seasons," Wolff said.
Winter revellers packed the newly extended skating trail on Saturday. Kati Pauls followed the trail down as far as Osborne Village and back to The Forks.
"(The weather's) fantastic. Finally. Keep it this way," she said.
Pauls wasn't the only Winnipegger who emerged from her home and headed outside to enjoy milder winter temperatures.
The slopes at Springhill Winter Park were crawling with skiers and snowboarders Saturday. Much of that had to do with the Winnipeg Alpine Racers Ski Club. The fun club, for kids aged six to 12, held races at the park all day.
President Colleen Ingram said the kids are undeterred by cold weather.
"These kids are hardy. They come out up to -32..." she said. "It's fun. It helps the winter go by faster."
The ski slopes were too busy for Mathew and Justin Craine. Instead, the two teenagers turned the skate ramps at The Forks into their private snow park, using a shovel to carve out their own paths.
"It's fun. You get to set up your own stuff...there's never anyone to get in your way," Justin said.
"It's definitely more work because you have to walk a lot. But there's never any lines, you don't have to wait for anything. It's just fun."
The milder weather won't last, however. Starting on Monday, temperatures will fall back into the low 20s, and will stay there for most of the week, according to Environment Canada.
The weather should start to warm up again by the weekend.
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