Feb. 4, 2022

No skis, no problem — in Bowness Park

The Outdoor Centre now rents cross-country skis so you can enjoy the winter season
Shamis Ali
Shamis Ali

Winter in Calgary — something that can spark joy in some and gloom in others. For Shamis Ali, a third-year student in software engineering, it’s one of the reasons he chose to move to Alberta from Karachi, Pakistan.

“The University of Calgary is an amazing university, but I also really like the climate. I know it’s weird to say this, but my whole life I’ve lived near the sea, and I’ve seen a lot of heat and sun, and I wanted a break from that,” he says. “Being out in the cold, I really like it.”

Ali found a job at The Outdoor Centre and has been on the ground in Bowness Park, renting winter sport gear to the many Calgarians looking to pass the long winter months off the couch and in the fresh air. The newest addition the centre’s offering is cross-country skis, giving another option for getting outside and working up a cold weather sweat.

Bowness Park is a local gem, with groomed cross-country ski trails maintained by City of Calgary Parks, trackset by machines for easier skiing. Located along the Bow River, the park also features a 1.6-kilometre ice trail and outdoor skating rink available from mid-November until mid-March, provided the cold weather sticks around.

Even though he loves the chilly temperatures, Ali doesn’t ski or skate himself. “It’s one of my goals to do it, as soon as I get time to learn,” he says. “Ice bikes are really easy for everyone. If you don’t know how to skate, you can still get out on the ice and have fun — I’ve found them very helpful for me.

“My favourite thing about working at the Outdoor Centre is meeting so many different people. Plus, the view is really beautiful as well.”

Bowness skating

As a future software engineer, he hopes to create something that will help people around the world. “I was fortunate enough to work on a project in one of my courses that would help consumers pick food that was suitable for their diet without having to go through the entire ingredients section,” he says. “That’s why I chose the field, because I love to create and with this speciality, I will be able to do that.”

The Outdoor Centre is a part of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Active Living. It has been renting gear and teaching outdoor skills for more than 45 years, becoming the largest centre of its kind in North America.

Rentals are on a walk-up, first-come-first-served basis on weekends only until the end of the season. Skis are rented out of the old Skate Shop by Seasons of Bowness Park, and skate rentals have moved to the Boathouse.

For more information, contact the Winter Ski and Skate Shop during operational hours.