Saskatoon offers more groomed trails for nordic skiers this winter

Kevin Robinson, the owner of Eb's Source for Adventure, says the cross country trails in Saskatoon are in good shape, despite the snow coming later this winter seasons compared to last year. (Supplied by Kevin Robinson  - image credit)
Kevin Robinson, the owner of Eb's Source for Adventure, says the cross country trails in Saskatoon are in good shape, despite the snow coming later this winter seasons compared to last year. (Supplied by Kevin Robinson - image credit)

The desire to be out and about has grown a lot during the pandemic. That includes activities like cross country skiing.

The sport has seen a surge in popularity in the province, and this winter season outdoor fans in Saskatoon have more groomed nordic trails available to explore.

In addition to the main cross country ski trails in Upper and Lower Meewasin, Diefenbaker, Kinsmen and Forest Parks, the city has been helping to groom the loops in different neighbourhood parks.

"We've seen an additional 16 requests," said Konrad André, operations manager for the Parks Department with the City of Saskatoon.

"Some of those are completed. But each time it snows or there's wind we have to redo the main trails. But we are getting to them."

Community Associations provide ski trails

Getting neighbourhood trails into good shape is part of the city's WintercityYXE Strategy, trying to get people outdoors as much as possible, said André.

The initiative by the city runs in partnership with several community associations across Saskatoon, according to the city's website. Overall there are 30 neighbourhood parks with cross country ski trails.

Saskatoon expected to have its trails ready by the first week of January. However, due to equipment failure and cold weather, the city has been focusing on maintaining the main trails first, meaning neighbourhood loops have been taking longer than expected to be done, according to an update from the city on Jan. 20.

Volunteers of the Saskatoon Nordic Ski Club are taking care of additional loops, for example at Holiday Park and Wildwood golf courses, the city says on its website.

"In the warmer conditions everybody's out and we're seeing … unprecedented use of the trails," Kevin Robinson, a volunteer with the club and owner of Eb's Source for Adventure, said in an interview on Saskatoon Morning.

"It's really, really exciting to see."

Pandemic plays role in high interest for sport

Robinson believes the hype for the sport in recent years is partly because of the pandemic. Residents are more focused on getting active locally and doing it safely in an outdoor environment, according to Robinson.

"People are realizing that if you do some active fun stuff outdoors, the winters go by a lot quicker and it's a lot more fun," he said.

"My enthusiasm is always high, it's great to see so many other people out enjoying a sport that's pretty close to my heart."

Robinson usually skis four to five times a week. In the city he often uses the trails at the Holiday and Wildwood Golf Courses.

"On the warmer days on the weekends, the parking lots there have more vehicles in them than they would have on a July weekend for golf," he said.

"It's unbelievable."

The trails he has been using in the city this winter season are "in great shape," said Robinson.

Despite the high interest in the sport, skiers usually spread out on the trails so it doesn't feel too crowded, he said.

Good workout on trails

Kevin Koerting also loves cross country skiing at Holiday Park, and tries to go there twice a week.

"I find that's a pretty good network of trails," he said.

"You can easily spend an hour there, getting a good workout."

The resident of the King George neighbourhood has owned a pair of nordic skis for a while, but only started getting into the sport last year.

"I try to avoid the weekends," said Koerting. "I always enjoy the peace and the tranquility of it."

Kevin Koerting
Kevin Koerting

Nordic skiing is a great way for the 32 year-old to embrace Saskatchewan winters.

While Koerting encourages everyone to "just go out and do it" on a nice day, his own first experience in –40 C was not as pleasant.

"I had a terrible time," said Koerting.

Today he enjoys the full-body workout of the sport.

"It's a nice combination of upper body, core and legs," he said.

"I tend, when I do a lot of cross-country skiing, to feel really good overall."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting