Winter sports gear in high demand
Gatineau Park winter passes on sale
The Gatineau Hills is home to some of the most premier cross-country ski trails in this area, possibly in all of Canada, and local ski vendors are gearing up for the coming season in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This summer, sports equipment for outdoor activities that allow for proper social distancing, such as bicycles and stand-up paddle boards, were in high demand and sometimes difficult to find. Local cross-country ski vendors took note of this and have adjusted their stock accordingly for the upcoming season.
“We’ve definitely seen an aggressive start to the season,” Kunstadt Sports Chelsea store manager Eric “Bernie” Bernard said.
And it’s not only been cross-country skis in the newest Kunstadt location that have been flying off the shelves, he said, but also downhill skis, snowshoes, fat-tire bikes for winter riding and associated equipment.
“Fortunately, we’re not as on our heels as we were for the bike season,” Bernie said.
He said the big order of downhill and cross-country skis should last through what’s hoped to be a strong fall and winter for sales.
“I don’t want to get peoples’ hopes up though because there’s high demand,” Bernie said.
Greg Christie’s Ski et Vélo owner, founder and namesake said he’s seeing the same demand for cross-country skis now as he saw for bikes during the spring and summer. When reached by phone, he was busy unloading 250 boxes of equipment, many of those boxes contained four pairs of skis each.
He was hesitant to say if that ski stock is limited because he didn’t want to create a toilet paper-style run on skis.
“If people want to hurry and shop with us, no complaints,” Christie added.
Christie said he likes how the National Capital Commission, which manages Gatineau Park lands, cancelled a planned price increase on winter daily and season passes.
“I like the NCC’s position on this — [the park] is everyone’s little piece of sanity,” he said.
He expressed worry, however, about access to the park for his Ontario customers.
“That open [provincial] border is a concern for me,” Christie said. “The Gatineau Park is also a jewel for them because they don’t really have anything like that in Ottawa.”
Just like other businesses, Christie said he and his staff have had to adapt to social distancing requirements, which means sales and finding the right equipment for someone can take a little longer, and he’s asking for patience from customers.
According to the NCC website, Gatineau Park season passes are on presale until Nov. 22, after which the price goes up. Skiing, snowshoeing and biking passes vary depending on age — from $95 for youth to $390 for families, and passes for snowshoeing and biking range from $39 to $137. Daily passes range from $10 to $45.
Library card holders can also borrow daily passes from public libraries across the National Capital Region, including the Chelsea and Cantley libraries. Passes can be bought online at ncc-ccn.gc.ca.