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‘Ice Dragon boat’ race held on Ottawa’s frozen Rideau Canal

‘Ice Dragon boat’ race held on Ottawa’s frozen Rideau Canal

An ice dragon boat contest was held on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa on Saturday, the first event of its kind hosted in North America.

The race was staged as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations and was promoted by both Canada and China, where dragon boat racing originated.

“There are 60 teams competing in total, and they signed up very fast. The list for competitors was full just 10 minutes after we opened for sign-ups,” said Charge d’affaires Wang Wentian of the Chinese embassy.

The 60 teams participating mainly came from the U.S. and Canada. Thousands of spectators gathered on the lake to watch the ice dragon boat race.

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Morphed from the traditional Chinese festive sport of dragon boat racing, the ice dragon boat glides along a frozen lake surface while maintaining the technique and competitive spirit of the original sport. The game was invented so people from colder regions could still enjoy dragon boat races during the winter season.

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Competitors said they fully enjoyed the experience though it was the first time for most.

“The ice is perfect and it’s very fun in these boats, they move very fast,” said one competitor.

“We’re really happy to see that actually we will be celebrating Chinese culture in the context of (Canada’s 150th anniversary) here right now in Ottawa,” said Heritage Minister Melanie Joly.