Skiskating is one of the newest winter sports and St. Albert is fully embracing the thrill of it.
Snowfeet is the company that developed the sport and helped it grow across the world. Founders Zbynek Suba and Michael Podesva created the miniature skis back in 2018 out of a desire to combine their passions of skiing and skating and sales quickly went through the roof.
“Sales are great so far,” said Suba. “We are quite happy with people's interest and also with mostly positive feedback from our customers with dozens of thousands of pairs sold so far.”
Despite the early success of the sport, there are some issues with getting it into the mainstream. There aren’t many places in the country that allow you to rent the unique Snowfeet. Despite this, St. Albert is one of the few communities to have easier access.
Fusion World Rentals might be more well known for their kayak rentals in the summer months, but in the winter they shift focus fully toward skiskating.
Owner Valerie Alvarez said the uniqueness of the sport drew her to partnering up with Snowfeet in getting skiskating into the community.
“We are really popular in the summer renting out kayaks,” said Alvarez. “Lots of our clients were asking if we could do something in the winter so we thought about cross-country [skiing] but that involved too many sizes and we didn’t want to deal with all of the different equipment.
“We then discovered Snowfeet, which can fit from size five to 13 … so one size fits all.”
Fusion is entering its second year of renting out Snowfeet and are seeing a lot of positive things from their clients.
“This is our second year and people in St. Albert and Edmonton really like them,” said Alvarez. “It’s super easy to get into. You don’t need poles or anything. Just put them into your backpack and go.”
Rentals flew off the shelves last winter and although business has been a bit slower, Alvarez expects things to pick up once the weather reaches a more comfortable temperature.
“The Snowfeet are better after super cold weather because the snow is more packed,” said Alvarez.
Skiskating can be enjoyed by any age. Alvarez said her most popular customers are often families and schools looking for a quick and easy way to have some fun.
“The families and schools in the communities want to do it,” said Alvarez. “Usually in schools, they split up physical education classes, so half does cross-country and the other half use the Snowfeet.”
The future of skiskating is unknown, although both Suba and Podesva are hopeful it can reach the popularity level to eventually be included in the Winter Olympics.
“No one can really predict what is to come in skiskating and skiskates development,” said Podesva. “As the history and origin of snowboarding and skiskating have their similarities, we believe the best days of this exciting sport are yet to come.
“One thing is for sure, the Snowfeet team will be working hard and who knows, the sport might even make it to the Olympic games one day.”