Warm weather cancels cross-country ski race, other winter activities

Warm weather cancels cross-country ski race, other winter activities

As above-zero temperatures are expected in Edmonton for the rest of the week, it's led to the cancellation of Alberta Cup cross-country ski races, and outdoor skating rinks are expected to close temporarily.

The Alberta Cup races were supposed to be held at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre on Dec. 16, but the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club has cancelled the races due to poor conditions.

The event was also going to be an Alberta Winter Games qualifying race for skiers aged 12 to 15. Now the qualifier needs another host location.

"We're obviously hugely disappointed," said Chris Hanstock, president of the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club.

The race is one of the largest sources of revenue to maintain the club's programs and events, he said.

"I moved here in '81 and probably the first 10 or 20 years you could pretty much guarantee from Halloween to the end of March that the conditions were pretty decent," Hanstock said.

"But the last four or five years, we've seen a big change in the reliability of the snow. Last year, we didn't even get good snow until well into December."

City rinks may close

Last weekend, the Victoria Park Oval skating rink and the Hawrelak Park pond and ice rink were both opened for skaters, but the city expects to temporarily shut them down this week due to melting.

At Hawrelak Park, work on the annual ice castle is at a standstill. The attraction is expected to open at the end of December, but the late-fall heatwave could delay that plan.

"Looking at the forecast, it's not out of the realm of possibilities," said Christian Denis, the castle's lead artist.

"Hopefully, it doesn't melt too much and it gets us back to -10 or colder."

Warm weather led to the closure of the ice castle earlier than planned last year.

"It definitely happens every year to some degree. It is kind of part of the beauty of the types of different kinds of ice formations we're getting," Denis said. 

"Having that type of fluctuation of temperature, humidity, wind does add to the effect of it, but ideally [we] would rather much colder weather."