Manitobans gearing up for outdoor fun amid COVID-19 pandemic

WINNIPEG — With the pandemic restrictions cancelling all indoor sports in the province, Manitobans are turning to the outdoors for some fresh air.

At Sampson’s Sporting Life, the phone has been ringing off the hook. Dean Sampson, the owner of the store, said with it being open for curbside pickup – business has been booming.

“The hottest ticket item is cross-country skis,” said Sampson. “You just can’t keep them in stock.”

On a hunch that winter sports would be popular amid the pandemic, Sampson ordered five times the amount of stock he usually does back in April. It’s a gamble he said is paying off.

“Most other stores when things started selling two months early in August and September, by the time they reacted, the suppliers were sold out,” said Sampson, adding a lot of first-time buyers and people revisiting the sport are buying skis.

Cross-country trails won’t be the only busy paths this winter. Snoman Inc., the company in charge of snowmobile trails in Manitoba, said it’s noticed a jump in trail passes this season.

“We are getting new riders emailing, people calling saying, ‘I bought a snowmobile for the first time and a Snopass, now what do I do next?'” said Yvonne Rideout, executive director of Snoman Inc.

The organization said northern trails are getting ready to groom and southern trails will likely open in early January.

It is letting riders know the warming huts along trails are closed because of COVID-19 and people should call ahead to check if gas stations and accommodations are open.

Snoman also recommends new riders take the organization’s online course to make sure everyone remains safe.

WINNIPEG ACTIVITIES

Winnipeggers looking to stay inside the city for winter fun also are in luck.

The City of Winnipeg said its 43 pleasure rinks and six toboggan runs will soon be up and running.

“With Mother Nature’s cooperation, it’s expected that they will be ready for users in the coming weeks,” said a city spokesperson in an email. “We appreciate the public’s patience and understanding as we work towards opening these amenities.”

The season may just be getting started, but Manitobans can’t wait to get out.

“People can’t go to gyms, the kids aren’t in hockey, ringette or any of the team sports, so people want to get out and have something to do,” said Sampson.

The City of Winnipeg launched a new winter recreation portal on its website on Friday.

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