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The wild swing in holiday weather has meant the wet start to 2023 for people who love snowboarding, skiing and skating in Ottawa plus Gatineau, Que.  

The turn from snow to rainy, warm weather set back the flooding work of the 40 volunteers at the Fisher Park outdoor skating trail during what is usually their busiest time of year.

Rink co-ordinator Scott Bradley  said they had  started building a bed before the snow and rain, but will now have to wait until the temperature drops below –5 C before they can flood it again.

“We’re all keen to get at it. The most popular two weeks of the skating season are when the kids are off school, ” Bradley said.

“It’s disappointing for us as volunteers when the weather is like it is, but it’s out of your control. ”

Cross-country trails ‘struggling’

Snow groomer Dave Adams  with the Kichi Sibi  Winter Trail said the recent turn in  the weather has been awful for maintaining the urban winter trail connecting the Canadian War Museum to Westboro Beach.

“We’re struggling, ”  Adams stated. “It’s so warm that to put a machine on the trail would wreck it. Not only wreck the trail, but it would probably damage our equipment. ” 

A section of the Kichi Sibi Winter Trail marked with cross-country ski tracks, foot prints and partially melted snow.
Monday’s rough conditions on the trail. (Submitted by Dave Adams)

According to the National Capital Commission (NCC), grooming resumed on some portions of the Gatineau Park path network on Monday.

The NCC is advising visitors to check its  website for trail closures and condition reports.

Alpine season went downhill 

The particular Camp Fortune ski resort in Chelsea, Que., has closed for a total of four days so far this season  — first due to a power outage related to the large snowfall around Christmas Eve  and again for two days over the new year weekend because of rain.

Over the weekend, crews had to dig a ditch to prevent flooding  and moved man-made snow on some runs. Other runs that were open thanks  to the Christmas snowfall now have bare patches.

Erin Boucher, director associated with Camp Fortune, said some ski classes  had to be cancelled, but there are still opportunities for those who want to learn.

“Spring skiing in January,   it’s not  where we want to be but it’s perfect for young skiers, perfect for new skiers, a little bit slower, ” Boucher said.

WATCH | Slower ski runs in these conditons:

Spring skiing in January is ‘perfect’ for new skiers, this hill director says

23 hours ago

Duration 0: 37

Camp Fortune director Erin Boucher said spring skiing in conditions within January are “not where we want to be” but they are favourable for new and young skiers.

She said they’re waiting for another drop in temperature so they can begin making snow again  and hopefully expand from eight to 20 runs.

The seven-day forecast for the Ottawa-Gatineau area generally calls for below-freezing but above-average  temperatures starting Wednesday night.

Rideau Canal still a waterway

In an emailed update on the Rideau Canal Skateway, the NCC  said the thaw from the last few days and recent snowfall contributed to a “significant loss of ice, ” leaving remaining ice “porous and of poor quality. ”

The NCC said it can unable to predict an opening date at this time.

According to the NCC, the skateway needs an average temperature of  –15 C over 48 hours, followed by stable temperatures around –10 C or lower to thicken the ice.  

WATCH | The work involved in preparing the particular skateway:

Ottawa Morning 2: 17 Weird winter weather leaves ski hill operators scrambling.

The director of Camp Fortune explains how the yo-yoing weather conditions are making it difficult to keep snow on the hills, and people on the slopes.

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