Organizers of the beloved Skate, the Lake event in Portland are introducing a new approach for 2024. It’s traditionally held on the last weekend of January, but now the event is evolving in response to challenges posed by the pandemic and climate change.
John Bongers, president of Portland Outdoors, the volunteer group behind Skate the Lake, explained the shift. “Twenty years ago, we picked the last weekend of January for exciting speed skating races on Big Rideau Lake, traditionally the coldest weekend.”
“However, with unpredictable weather due to warming spells and rain, we’re experimenting with pop-up style events. We’ll decide on races just a few days in advance based on a clear short-term weather forecast.”
Every year, Portland Outdoors readies a one-kilometer oval on the shallow bay, hosting notable events like the North American Marathon Speed Skating Championships.
Despite facing cancellations in 2023 due to poor ice conditions, the organization pivoted during the pandemic. It focused on the early and safe opening of the oval, leading to the successful Skate the Lake Challenge.
To mark its 20th anniversary, Skate the Lake will embrace spontaneity, making weather-informed race decisions closer to the event, akin to last-minute pop-up events.