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Skaters flock to Rideau Canal Skateway on last day of Winterlude


Thousands of skaters took to the Rideau Canal Skateway on Family Day Monday, the final day of Winterlude. While the ice condition was poor, people were just happy a slice of the skateway was open after a disappointing season.

“Last night we swept, graded and flooded the ice. Conditions are still variable. Our teams are working to improve the surface, and the cold is going to help firm everything up,” the NCC said on X.

“See you on the ice for Family Day!”

The skateway is open between Pretoria and Bank Street.

The NCC says the canal flooded with people shortly after the reopening.

 "The ice conditions aren't perfect, but at least it's open," said resident Andre Jakaubow.

Ice conditions on the Rideau Canal Skateway Monday were improved since Sunday, though bumps and cracks persisted. Feb. 19, 2024 (Sam Houpt/CTV News)

Meanwhile, a portion of the Rideau Canal Skateway opened on Sunday only six hours after it had been closed for almost three weeks. The NCC warned of poor ice conditions on the canal, recommending walking instead of skating on the ice.

"It's been two years for me," said resident Taylor Ireland. "I used to skate the whole thing from the beginning to Carleton and go study in the library like a good Canadian boy. I'm happy to get back out here again."

The NCC said on social media on Sunday that crews would close the Skateway beginning at 6 p.m. after snow fell on the capital throughout the day, negatively impacting ice conditions.

"Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the Skateway today. We saw lots of smiles and sticky BeaverTails fingers. We will close the Skateway at 6 p.m. to do intensive ice maintenance, including flooding, if conditions allow," the NCC said.

The world's largest skating rink has only been open for six days this winter.

"I was really bummed out last year when it didn't open," said resident Mark Hanzlik. "Like everyone else, I'm just ecstatic to be out here."

Winterlude wraps up

The reopening of the Skateway comes as Winterlude 2024 wraps up.

Winterlude spokesperson Melanie Brault told Newstalk 580 CFRA in an interview "it's (the canal) just breathtaking,” encouraging people to take part.

“The canal is such an iconic piece of the national capital region. It’s still an amazing opportunity for people from the area and for people from out of town,” Brault said. “The weather is chilly today, so I recommend everybody dress up.”

Some visitors to the capital were happy to see a portion of the Skateway available. 

"We're super excited," said Jennifer Lui, who was visiting from Toronto. "We actually weren't sure if we would be able to skate because of the weather conditions."

Families looking to make the most of the day can also head over to Snowflake Kingdom or participate in Winterlude’s wide variety of other events.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's William Eltherington, Sam Houpt and Patricia Boal Top Stories

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