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Frozen river no barrier for Winnipeg paddlers

Winnipeggers continue to find interesting new ways to embrace the winter season, including from the inside of a canoe on skates. YouTube / Manitoba CanoeKayak Centre

Winnipeggers continue to find interesting new ways to embrace the winter season.

Those who have been taking in the city’s river ice skating trail may have noticed an usual sight this month.

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Members of the Manitoba Canoe Kayak Centre have been making use of the trail by way of blade-equipped boats and paddles tipped with ice picks.

“The group that most videos were taken of was our Master’s Paddling Program. So that is a group that trains all year round, and they do it more as a competitive (activity),” says Sacha Skirzyk, Manitoba Canoe Kayak Centre’s club manager.

“Some groups use it as training, some use it more of a leisure.”

Read more: Teenager completes solo kayak trip around Lake Winnipeg

Skirzyk says he has tried it several times in the past, but normally his job is to follow along on skates and give the canoe a push when needed.

“The biggest (difference) is, well, you can’t use a normal paddle. We have to use a specific type of paddle that has spikes on the end so we can basically spike the ice and pull ourselves forward,” Skirzyk says.

“Alongside that, we basically attach skate blades to the bottom of the boat. They’re little baskets that you set the boat in … so you’re doing the same motions, but it definitely is a bit harder.”

The club actually purchased the equipment a couple years ago, but Skirzyk says they haven’t been able to put it to much use since the pandemic arrived.

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Skirzyk says they have clubs in other communities such as Morden and Selkirk, but Winnipeg is the only one with the ice boats.

“We’re always happy to invite new members if anybody’s ever interested in getting involved,” Skirzyk says.

“If somebody, like a hockey team, wanted to go out on a dragon boat, we’d be happy to talk to them and sort out some sort of rental there.”

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