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Old Posted Jan 27, 2008, 4:38 PM
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Only The Lonely.. Only The Lonely.. is offline
Portage & Main 50 below
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Winnipeg
Posts: 4,746

This brought a smile to my face.

So now we're sneaky jerks
Name-calling escalates as city topples Ottawa's claim to longest skating rink

Sun Jan 27 2008

By Bill Redekop

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

Owen Znibarec, 5, stops to paint a fish on the ice courtesy of Art City, an arts-based drop-in centre on Broadway.
So now we've gone from dweebs in snowsuits to sneaky jerks, eh? On the very day Winnipeg laid claim to having the world's longest skating rink, the cold war brewing between our city and Ottawa escalated.

Janine Flood, out for a skate Saturday on Ottawa's Rideau Canal Skateway, called Winnipeggers "sneaky jerks" for trying to usurp the Rideau Canal's Guinness World Record for having the world's longest rink.

Saturday, Winnipeg's skating trail measured 8.54 kilometres. Ottawa's Rideau Canal skating trail measures 7.8 kms -- if it ever manages to fully open.

"We did it," said Paul Jordan, The Forks chief operating officer. "We beat Ottawa by three-quarters of a kilometre."

But Flood was not impressed.

"Does Winnipeg have a Winterlude?" asked the former Winnipegger who should know better. "We have a national event that takes place on our canal. I guess it's OK to be factually correct if they have the longer rink, but are people going to travel there just to say they skated on it?"

Flood also said Ottawa should warn people there have been floods in Winnipeg's past. "One minute you're on the ice, the next you're in the water," she said with a chuckle.

Jordan said he stopped clearing Winnipeg's trail when he did because "we just wanted to beat Ottawa. With more money we could keep on going."

An Ottawa Citizen columnist had called Jordan a "dweeb in a snowsuit," in a friendly dissing match between the two cities. That just made Jordan more determined to dethrone Canada's capital city.

The skating trail extends as far west on the Assiniboine River as Omand's Creek. On the Red River, it runs from Whittier Park in St. Boniface to the Norwood Bridge.

"We could go all the way to Portage la Prairie. We could go wherever we want," Jordan said, if Ottawa tries to retake the mantle as longest skate trail.

The official measure required a team that included a lawyer, a landscape architect and two civil technologists. The measurement required both a surveyor's GPS receiver and a machine called a DigiWheel that rolls along the trail and measures its length like an odometer.

The official opening of the world's longest skating trail is Monday at 10:30 a.m. starting at Omand's Creek Park. Access to the river is at the corner of Raglan Road and Wolseley Avenue. Organizers are hoping hundreds of Manitobans turn out.

The river portion of The Forks was packed Saturday. Within a five-minute span, a visitor could see youths playing a game of old-fashioned shinny hockey, four people riding by on horseback, two people skijoring -- being pulled on skis by a tandem of harnessed dogs -- and two other people on skates being pulled by dogs, a couple walking a dog with booties on its paws, a CN freight train crossing the railway bridge, and children painting the river ice in bright paints.

Art City, an arts-based drop-in centre on Broadway, ran a program where kids could paint the river ice surface. The River Pond Classic of non-contact shinny hockey is also being held this weekend at The Forks.

The trail is regularly groomed with a small tractor with a rotating bristle brush in front to clear snow. A Zamboni floods the surface of the trail. Assiniboine Credit Union is the trail's sponsor.

The Forks will be having its record verified by Guinness World Record authorities next month. The process usually take four to six weeks.

Meanwhile, Ottawa can take solace from the fact it is still the largest skating rink.

Even with the 3.7 kilometres the National Capital Commission -- which is responsible for the skateway -- has opened so far, the Ottawa rink has 62,000 square metres of skating surface, said spokeswoman Kathryn Keyes.

If the Winnipeg rink is nine kilometres long with a maximum width of four metres, its total surface area would only be 36,000 metres squared, making Ottawa's skating area considerably wider.

And when the entire canal is open, it offers 165,621 square metres of skating surface.

-- with files from Canwest News Service
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