Winter sports enthusiasts don't let freezing temperatures keep them off the slopes

Temperatures are dropping to -20 and below, but hundreds of Winipeggers continue to hit the slopes.

'The cold doesn't affect you once you get going'

A young skier tries out a feature at Springhill Winter Sports Park on Saturday. (Chris Stanton/CBC)

As he and his son waited for the first chairlift of the season, Ian Raap shrugged off the cold weather.

A longtime skier and self-described mountaineer, Raap said he doesn't mind the windchill, which approached –30 C on Saturday afternoon at Springhill Winter Sports Park.

"It'd my first time this year, and it's been great to go out and go skiing," he said. "I look forward to it every year."

Although his 5-year-old son Parks doesn't appreciate the cold as much as he does, Raap said he was enjoying his day on the slopes.

"He likes it, he's a little cold, but he's having fun," he said.

"I've grown up skiing, I grew up in the mountains  and it's the first thing I want to teach my kids. 

Richard Biljardt is taking snowboarding lessons, and isn't letting the extreme cold stop him from hitting the slopes. (Ahmar Khan/CBC News)

Families bundling up

For first-timers, the freezing temperatures may be off-putting, but for Richard Biljardt and his family it sets the stage perfectly.

"It's my first time out here, the kids are with me, the weather is nice. The cold doesn't affect you once you start going," he said Saturday while learning how to snowboard.

"It makes for a fun family outing."

Biljardt said he doesn't allow extreme cold weather to impact his family outings.

"If we weren't here, we'd be skating at The Forks or just be outside in the backyard."

Vivianne Julien, the owner of Springhill Winter Sports Park, says the cold weather was a relief as it allowed them to cover the slopes with man-made snow. (Ahmar Khan/CBC News)

Vivianne Julien, who owns the ski hill on Highway 59 north of the Perimeter, estimates a couple hundred people visit Springhill each day.

"On a busy day {we can expect} several hundred people at a time, and if the weather co-operates, we can continue doing that throughout the season," she said.

Julien said this year the park opened on Nov. 30, nearly 15 days earlier than last year, but didn't really begin full operations until the past week.

The chairlift was in operation for the first time this season at Springhill Winter Sports Park on Saturday. (Chris Stanton/CBC)

"Most of our snow is man-made, so we had to wait until about Dec. 24 before we were able to start making snow to make it safe enough to use a chair," said Julien.

With weather changing every year, Julien said she never knows what to expect of the coming year.

"Our first week was a bit slower, bouncing back, this is just the way it is. Our season is totally dependant on mother nature and the weather," she said.

"We do what we can, we try to accommodate as much as we can."

Last year was the longest winter season that Springhill has seen with the slopes remaining open up April 1. 


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