This season, grab winter by your bootstraps

Local options abound for outdoor fun and fitness

Edmonton offers endless possibilities to get out, get moving, and have fun. Don your warmest clothes and embrace all that winter has to offer.

In 2012, the City of Edmonton launched Winter City Edmonton as a guide to winter activities. Another great resource is the Explore Winter Edmonton website. Together, the two sites (see below) include advice on everything from what to wear to options such as walking, skating, sledding, and skiing.

A visit to Allsports & Cycle opened the door to my winter endeavours. The pandemic has put restrictions on the store’s trade-in options, but aisles of new equipment are available. Resale skiing and snowboarding equipment is skimpy, but there are plenty of new equipment options.

Ice skates, used as well as new, for all ages and skill levels, and from figure skating to shinny, are in demand.

“This year, it’s best to come in as soon as possible to get your winter gear,” advises Tyler Schmidt, purchaser and sales manager. 

Families with more enthusiasm than money may be able to access donated sports equipment for their children. At Allsports & Cycle, a father walked in with a big hockey bag. His son had finished with his skates, pads, and helmet, and he wanted to donate the still-useful gear. “Sport Central will pick them up here,” Schmidt told him. “It’s a really good place to donate equipment.”

Henry Stainthorp, rink manager at Spruce Avenue, working on the rink a number of years ago. | Kate Wilson

Sport Central was the brainchild of sportscaster Cecil “Tiger” Goldstick and local volunteers in 1991. The goal: to provide free sports equipment to children from ages four to 17 in low-income families. 

Today, more than 200 agencies can recommend children for the 15 sports included in the program. Once a child has been recommended, a visit to the warehouse follows. A child can receive anything from head-to-toe hockey equipment to cross-country boots and skis or more, as requested.

Sheldon Oleksyn, executive director, has a unique problem these days: due to COVID-19 restrictions on sports activities, Sport Central has too much gear. “I want families to know we are waiting for them,” he says. “Right now, it’s more important than ever for kids to get exercise.”

If walking or running is on your books, don your warm clothes, put on shoes with traction and get out there. Walking poles help with stability on slippery sidewalks. 

Walk in the river valley or in Borden Park, then toboggan at Rundle Park, or skate on local ice rinks. Our four community league rinks are: Delton’s Walter Gurba Rink, Eastwood, Parkdale Cromdale, and Spruce Avenue. Volunteers make these rinks happen and are always needed. Read more about community rinks in this issue.

Winter cycling is another tantalizing possibility. Copious information is available on edmonton.ca/wintercycling, including winter cycling maps, routes, and what to wear. A single gear bike or dedicated winter bike is advised.

Look beyond our area for a real break. Take a day trip to Elk Island National Park, 35 minutes east of the city on the Yellowhead. Enjoy a walk in the woods along well-packed trails. Count all the bison you can spot. A pass must be purchased. For a family group, admission is $16.

Another option is the Strathcona Wilderness Area, a 30-minute drive east on the Yellowhead. Winter walks and cross-country skiing are both recommended in this free park.

Be sure to check alberta.ca/covid19 for any changing restrictions or guidelines.


INFORMATION

Allsports & Cycle

13016 82 St

780.760.2121or allsportscycle.com

Sport Central

11847 Wayne Gretzky Drive North

780.477.1166 or sportcentral.org

OTHER RESOURCES

wintercityedmonton.ca

exploreedmonton.com/winter

edmonton.ca/wintercycling

pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/elkisland

www.strathcona.ca/recreation-events


Featured Image: Tyler Schmidt, purchaser and sales manager, at the entrance to the used skates room at Allsports & Cycle. | Constance Brissenden

Constance Brissenden
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