"I have never experienced worse conditions": what playing in Saturday's Snow Bowl III was like

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line
Stampeders' running back Matt Walter picked up over 100 rushing yards in the snow Saturday, but found it tough going.
Stampeders' running back Matt Walter picked up over 100 rushing yards in the snow Saturday, but found it tough going.

Saturday's game between the Calgary Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers featured spectacular views of a snow-covered McMahon Stadium, wacky plays caused by the weather and a highly entertaining, close-fought contest that ended with an 18-13 win for Winnipeg, the Bombers' first victory in Calgary since 2002. However, it may have been much more fun for viewers on TV than players or fans at the stadium. Stampeders' running back Matt Walter, who's had a long career at McMahon with the University of Calgary Dinos and now with the Stampeders, told Scott Fisher of The Calgary Sun Saturday's game had the worst conditions he'd seen on that field:

“I’ve been playing football at McMahon my whole life and I have never experienced worse conditions based on the traction,” Walter said. “Usually at McMahon, it’s really cold and it snows.

“But you don’t usually get this East Coast-style slush. It kicks up all the pebbles on the field and they get all over the ball. So that adds an extra dimension to the rough conditions.

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He wasn't the only one to talk about how tough it was out there. Rookie Winnipeg quarterback Robert Marve, who took over after starter Drew Willy hurt himself on a fumble late in the first half, told Paul Wiecek of The Winnipeg Free Press he'd never seen anything like it:

Marve, who grew up in Florida, said he had never played in weather conditions like Saturday’s — and it took some getting used to.

"There was a couple of cold days when I played at Purdue, but nothing like that," said Marve. "It was hard gripping the ball, to be honest. And as the game went on, it got more and more slushy and there were times you’d put your foot out in front of you and it would just come out from under you.

"I had to adapt and I wish I’d adapted faster. But I’m excited about the win and getting an opportunity."

Things were tough in the stands, too, as one fan's series of tweets from the game illustrates:

About the only one who seemed happy with the conditions was Calgary head coach and general manager John Hufnagel, who told Fisher they'll give the Stampeders valuable experience ahead of Nov. 23's West Final:

“Truthfully, I was very glad the weather was like it was,” Hufnagel said. “So we would have an opportunity to play in adverse conditions.

We know November 23 will be a little frosty most likely.

We have to learn from this and understand the importance of doing the things that are necessary to protect the football.”

Hufnagel's probably right there about the value of the experience. This is the third cold and snowy game in Calgary in as many years, and it's unlikely it will be the last. That's great for those who love watching snow games and the resulting insanity on TV, but it's worth remembering that these take a toll on the players and fans as well. At least the Stampeders' players are sort of getting used to it?

See also our post on the five craziest plays affected by weather Saturday.

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