Winnipeg unofficially breaks world record for longest skating chain

A group of Winnipeggers has raised the bar for anyone hoping to form the world's longest chain of ice skaters.

Record-setting event raises money for Cancer Care

Nearly 400 people took part in an attempt to break the world record for the longest skating chain at The Forks in Winnipeg Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. The group unofficially broke the previous record of 370 skaters, but the record still needs to be verified by Guinness World Records. (CBC)

A group of Winnipeggers has raised the bar for anyone hoping to form the world's longest chain of ice skaters.

Just shy of 400 skaters braved Sunday's frigid temperatures (–24 C, –33 with the windchill) to unofficially break the Guinness World Record for the longest skating chain, set by a group of 370 skaters who last set the record in Hachinohe, Aomori, Japan, in 2015.

"It's a very long line," laughed organizer Karly Tardiff when asked what the attempt on the river trail at The Forks looked like.

While the record still needs to be verified by officials at Guinness World Records, Tardiff said somewhere between 385 and 395 skaters took part in the chain.

To break the record, the skaters had to create one continuous line with each skater holding onto the waist of the person in front of them, like a giant conga line on skates, said Tardiff.

After a signal, that continuous line had to travel at least 400 metres without breaking. At one point, the entire line from the first skater to the last skater must be skating. If the line breaks at any point, the attempt is void.

The skaters were all required to be wearing commercially available ice skates — no boots, curling shoes or anything else — and for this attempt, participants had to be age 12 or older.

The record attempt, dubbed Chain for Change, brought in over $145,000 for Cancer Care Manitoba. (CBC)

It took the skaters two attempts to make it the required distance, said Tardiff, and they also needed to get a little help from their fellow Winnipeggers to make sure they broke the record.

"At the last minute we had to canvass people on the trail to get our numbers met," she said, adding roughly 40 random skaters agreed to help out.

Not Winnipeg's first attempt

There have been previous attempts by Winnipeggers to break the record, including more than 1,400 skaters who gathered at The Forks in 2008, but that attempt ultimately wasn't certified by Guinness.

It failed because there were young kids in the chain who just couldn't hold on to the person in front of them, said Tardiff, hence the age requirement this time around.

Those who took part in the record-breaking event, dubbed Chain for Change, were encouraged to bring a donation for Cancer Care Manitoba, and Tardiff had hoped to raise $20,000 for the cause.

She ended up raising over $145,000 thanks to the generosity of the skaters and a large single donation of $100,000.

"I figured if we were going to be getting that many people together we should raise money," she said. "My grandmother had breast cancer, she's a survivor, but I have a handful of friends who have lost loved ones and friends who have lost loved ones and friends to cancer and I thought it was a natural fit because because everything raised stays in Manitoba with the Cancer Care Manitoba Foundation."

For the record to be official, witnesses were on hand to sign off that everything was on the level, and now Tardiff will send the documentation to Guinness to have the record verified.


Shane Gibson


Shane was a CBC Manitoba journalist. He has nearly a decade of experience reporting in Winnipeg and around Manitoba.