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Prairie surfers want to make Gardiner Dam a tourist destination

Surf Anywhere, a group of surfing enthusiasts, thinks Saskatchewan's Gardiner Dam is the perfect spot to catch a wave. Now, the surfers are trying to convince SaskPower and Lake Diefenbaker's tourism department.

A group of surfing enthusiasts think Saskatchewan's Gardiner Dam is the perfect spot to catch a wave

Surfing enthusiasts catch waves at Saskatchewan's Gardiner Dam. 0:12

For Justin Gullickson and Jacob Kelly Quinlan, every body of moving water provides an opportunity to surf.

The men are part of Calgary-based surfing collective Surf Anywhere. Currently, the group is developing a surf park in Alberta's Kananaskis river and they want to do the same thing in Saskatchewan.

Gullickson grew up in Star City, Sask. and explained that he had always wanted to try surfing on the waves of nearby Gardiner Dam.

Move over snowboarders and skiers, surfers are invadinåçg Alberta's Rocky Mountains. A growing community of river surfers are flocking to Calgary, which has become a hub for the growing sport thanks to some of the best "inland waves" in the world. 0:42

Recently, Gullickson, Quinlan and a group of surfers tried it out.

"It's a nice big wave. It is pretty tall, it is really wide and it's really fast," Gullickson said. "It works great to surf."

The surfers noted the only downside of the experience is that the ferocity of the waves depends on the dam's output that day.

Lake Diefenbaker Tourism likes the idea

Lake Diefenbaker Tourism posted a video on its Facebook page this week of the group riding the waves near the SaskPower station at Gardiner Dam at the head of Lake Diefenbaker.

"Surfing on a river in Saskatchewan seems bizarre, but at the same time it is another form of recreation that we can make use of and we are excited to see what the futures holds for Chief Whitecap Waterway," said Shanda Boon,
Marketing & Tourism Co-ordinator for Chief Whitecap Waterway and Lake Diefenbaker Tourism.

"I have talked to these surfers briefly and it is definitely something we will be having further conversations about. We, of course, want to make sure safety is a priority for everyone, but again an idea that is worth talking further about!" wrote Boon in an email to CBC News.

"The Kananaskis river runs right out of the mountains so it's cold even in the summer when we're in wetsuits. Really excited about getting into a river wave that's running off of a lake that could potentially surf it in some board shorts," said Quinlan.

Surf Anywhere thinks with some improvements, the spot could be a world class surfer's destination for those who can't make it to the ocean.

However, the group says it would have to convince SaskPower that it is a good idea, as it has jurisdiction in the area.

CBC News has requested comment from SaskPower.

With files from SRC's Nicole Lavergne-Smith