6 obscure winter sports in Manitoba that you need to try

Posted January 25, 2023 | Author Jillian Recksiedler

Manitobans have learned to get creative with the snowy season. After all, it sticks around here for a bit, and you can't exactly hibernate all winter long. Learn about these winter obscure sports - perhaps only found in Manitoba - that keep us entertained.

Tourism Winnipeg

Spongee, Winnipeg

Spongee is a cult sport almost exclusively played in Winnipeg. It's an adaptation of road hockey, but players play on an ice rink, using soft-soled footwear similar to a broomball shoe and a sponge puck. It's an cheaper and safer alternative to ice hockey...and its accessible to a population who may not have grown up on skates. Although most popular in the 80s and 90s, spongee still has a league of dozen of teams that operates mainly out of the Kildonan neighbourhood of Winnipeg.

Crokicurl, Winnipeg

Crokicurl combines two of Manitoba’s favourite pastimes – the sport of curling with the tabletop game of crokinole – to make the ultimate Canadian sport. Both games share the same objective: slide a disc closest to the centre button to win, thus crokicurl (developed in 2017 by a Winnipeg architect firm) is a witty mashup. Players compete on a quadrant-shaped rink, throwing pseudo-curling rocks toward the centre and positioning them on the bullseye playing surface to accumulate the most points. Crokicurl is set up in the pier area of the Nestaweya River Trail at The Forks for the public to play for free until winter lasts.

Horse skijoring, Falcon Lake

Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes provides the venue, while neighbouring Falcon Beach Ranch provides the horses. The annual Snowdance Festival held each January at Falcon Trails Resort in Whiteshell Provincial Park is chock-full of hair-brained activities for outdoorsy types, such as frozen turkey curling. But the most adrenaline-filled event is the equestrian skijoring, which might sound odd to a Manitoban, but is a totally legit sport in Norway. Athletes on skis or snowboard hold on to a tow rope and are pulled behind a horse and rider.

Frozen fish toss, Gimli

Gimli fish tossJoyful participants engage in Gimli's frozen fish toss, celebrating winter fun and community spirit.

Those hardy Icelanders along Lake Winnipeg gather annually in early March to celebrate (and bid adieu) to winter at the Gimli Ice Festival. Among the many outdoor activities that happen on the ice in Gimli's harbour, the frozen fish toss is always a crowd favourite. Limber-armed participants pitch a frozen sauger or pickerel toward fishing buckets, hoping to sink it. Fish lips alert: judges award a second try if you kiss the fish before you throw it.

Flour packing competition, The Pas

At The Pas' venerable cultural event the Northern Manitoba Trapper's Festival, flour packing is one of 22 competitions that King Trapper wannabes sign up for to test their mettle. The event involves carrying giant sacks of flour upon their back – at minimum 600 lbs. – and walking six meters. This strongman competition is an ode to the ultimate outdoors men who plied the waters and woods of the North carrying unimaginable loads of furs and goods on their backs during frequent portages.

Kick sledding, Riding Mountain National Park

Manitoba's only national park accessible to leisure travellers does one heck of a job as selling itself as the place to be in winter. Well-groomed cross-country ski trails, guided snowshoe hikes, fat bike rentals, winterized oTENTiks for camping...and now kicksleds. These Scandanavian scooters are lightweight sleds usually characterized by a frame or chair mounted on flexible metal runners that are propelled by kicking ("sparking") the ground by foot. Rent a kicksled (AKA kickspark) for a few hours from the Friends of Riding Mountain information centre in the Wasagaming townsite and take your kids on an adventure on the trails around Clear Lake.

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jillian, a marketer, communicator, traveller and Manitoba flag waver. Growing up in rural Manitoba during the '80s means I have a penchant for daytrips, maps (the paper kind), and prairie sunsets. I never tire of sharing stories about my home.

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