You now that stereotype about how Canadians strap skates to their babies before they can walk? Well, in Saskatoon we take that seriously. One of the most defining Saskatoon experiences is ice skating. It’s one our locals are enthusiastic about sharing, mostly because if all the other stereotypes are to be believed, we would skate everywhere since we’re covered in ice nine months of the year, right?
We’re super polite and we try not to make tourists feel uncomfortable as they attempt to blend in. But let’s face it: skating is not something you can fake your way through. It takes practice and patience and determination. And hot chocolate. So, as we pretend not to see you wobbling at the ankles and flailing your arms in the air just know we’re here to help with advice such as, “It’s just like walking, but glide instead,” or “Bend your knees, bend your knees!” and “Try to fall backwards!”
How seriously do we take our ice skating? Well, Saskatoon has more than 50 outdoor skating rinks. The most popular is the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink next to the Delta Bessborough downtown. Free to use, this popular ice sheet is a winter go-to for skaters of all ages and abilities. And it’s comfortable, too! There’s an indoor shelter to warm up, and the rink has a fire pit and public restrooms. To get more people active on the ice, there are even ice skates you can borrow. Pro tip: If you’d prefer your own skates for your stay, you’ll find rental options at one of our many sporting goods stores.
If you already know how to skate and fancy a game of shinny with some pals, finding a local rink is easy. On any given winter’s night, you’ll easily spot the neighbourhood outdoor rink (meticulously maintained by a community association), lit up with floodlights and alive with kids trying to fit in ten more minutes before bed.
There are five municipal arenas throughout the city where public skating is available at regular times, so that’s a great option when the weather is just too cold to breathe. It’s also worthwhile to check out the Clarence Downey Speed Skating Oval where free public skate times are offered throughout the winter.
The winner of the cutest skating rink in Saskatoon should probably go to the outdoor pond at Innovation Place. Located next to Boffins Public House, it’s fringed by photogenic fir trees and a wooden gazebo. There’s even a fully-stocked firepit (bring your own marshmallows).
Perhaps a skate in the Bowl is more your speed. The University of Saskatchewan maintains an outdoor rink at the centre of campus. Take a glide under the watchful eye of the grand Peter MacKinnon building. It was completed in 1913 and is a National Historic Site.