Winter sports guide

by Dave Salter
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 18/96) - OK, the reality of winter has finally set in. Get ready for another seven -- or more -- months of snow and darkness.

But it doesn't have to be all bad. Without winter we'd never have hockey, or skiing or snowball fights.

So get out there and participate or participact -- or whatever that fitness couple on TV tells us to do.

Here's a guide to some winter sports you can choose from. So you have no more excuses for just sitting around the house watching NFL football -- except that it's relaxing.


It's never referred to as "ice hockey" by true Northerners. Like we'd have to differentiate our game from field hockey or table hockey -- as if. No Canadian needs any further information on this sport.

For those who play their hockey on Northern ponds, I'd advise wearing long underwear, two pairs of wool socks, snow pants, a sweater (or three), turtleneck, a toque, scarves and plenty of lip balm. Oh, and an extra large Montreal Canadiens jersey over your top for looks.

Cross-country skiing

Experts say this sport is one of the best -- if not the best -- cardio-vascular workout available.

My cross-country expert tells me snow is essential when competing in this sport.

He also informs me the best conditions are a 1.25 centimetres of powder over 18 cm of medium-packed snow, unless there's a crust. So bring your ruler along -- just in case.


Some southerners have been known to strap tennis rackets to their boots but I found out it doesn't work well.

For those who are too lazy to ski, snowshoeing affords one the luxury of a leisurely walk through the Northern wilderness -- or down the street to the corner convenience store.

Just don't try running in these things -- they're kind of clunky and you'll probably land face-first in a snowdrift.


Ski or snowshoe -- your choice. Biathlon is basically a variation on the aforementioned sports, but you get to carry a gun and shoot at things.

Northerners and Quebecers are quite adept at this combination sport.

Some rural communities allow rock-throwing in lieu of guns.


Ice, ball, broom -- that's pretty much it. News/North columnist Bleacher Creature filled us in on this interesting Northern pastime a couple of weeks ago.

He tells me curved sticks are not allowed.


Rock-throwing for adults. This is a casual, social sport where frosty beers and smokes are always on hand -- at the recreational level.

Some skips are known to yell "hurry" when ordering up a cold one.

But seriously, at the elite level, Canadian curlers are among the best in the world.


Northerners don't need any background on this one, either.

We're are among the world's best.

Not surprisingly, sales of Dog Chow in the North are among the highest in the world.

Figure skating

I used to figure skate as a child until they made me wear one of those dorky, one-piece pantsuits.

I no longer compete in this sport but I do enjoy watching the competitions on TV.

Other stuff

Speed skating, ringette and outdoor darts -- a sport dominated by Newfoundlanders and not to be confused with the completely separate and different sport of outdoor-winter-lawn-darts, which are also outlawed in Gjoa Haven and some other select Northern communities -- are some other winter sports you might want to look into.