This year, according to Environment Canada, Edmonton has set a record for the longest continuous stretch of days with the temperature falling below freezing, almost 170 of them. And this week the forecast calls for more snow and winter-like weather there. Most of the country has seen these crazy low temperatures for months on end, not just northern Alberta.
Although the cold is wearing a little thin on everyone’s patience, the snow—in the prairies, at least—may not be as troubling. Snow means moisture, and the recent drought map shows almost all areas of southern Saskatchewan and many parts of Alberta need some any way they can get it. Of course, it would be much nicer to see it come as a warm spring rain.
But while so many Canadians fume about the cold, maybe we need to take a page out of the northern European playbook to help us cope. We might just need to think of a few new winter sports to take our mind off it.
This past winter AGCO’s Valtra tractor brand found an interesting way to pass a few cold days by holding what amounts to tractor races on ice and snow. I’m not entirely sure why we Canadians haven’t thought of that. After all, most prairie farm tractors spend the entire winter doing little or nothing, except plowing the yard and driveway. Of course, livestock farmers are the exception, as they tend to give theirs a winter workout mixing and hauling feed rations.
The idea behind the Valtra competition, according to a press release, was to find the driver who could navigate a winter obstacle course with the best precision and fastest time. During the brand’s European demonstration tour late last year, a number of finalists were picked from a series of competitions to compete in a championship round of driving that took place in Finnish Lapland.
The finals were held on an ice track on the frozen sea, where the slippery surface and Arctic conditions challenged the finalists. According to AGCO, the course demanded “excellent driving skills, precision and judgement, as well as a certain degree of risk taking”.
The drivers who came from more temperate regions of Europe found themselves competing in conditions they had never driven a tractor in before. I’m thinking any prairie cattle farmer who’s hauled feed out to cows over snow and ice might have had the edge on that group in the final competition.
The competition winner was from Slovakia. In second place wasa driver from Latvia and another from France placed third.
As much as I’m tired of winter, especially this year, I think I’d really like to compete in this event. If you have to live through winter, you might as well race tractors on ice and enjoy it.