Family and friends make every day the best day ever

Snowmobilers in Yorkton appreciate the wide open spaces and the camaraderie

by Gail Jansen

Riders gather for the Saskatchewan Abilities Council's annual Easter Seals Snowarama on February 19, 2011, in Yorkton. Peter Baran Photography photo

For Yorkton riders Paul Smolinski and Jolene Kindiak, the worst day of snowmobiling is still better than the best day of work—but for both, the added opportunity to share their passion with other avid snowmobilers makes it just that much better.

“I don’t think there’s anything better than getting together with your friends for a day of riding,” said Smolinski. “The actual riding is secondary and just the icing on the cake.”

When asked to describe his best day ever, Smolinski immediately thought more of his favourite event rather than of just one particular day—that event is Yorkton’s annual Easter Seals Snowarama

A Yorkton event that is now heading into its 35th year, this is one that draws upwards of 200 to 300 riders and is one of the biggest snowmobiling events to be held in Saskatchewan.

“For me, the best day of snowmobiling is one where I get to reconnect with old friends and have that social interaction,”  said Smolinski,  “and with Snowarama, it’s almost like a homecoming for sledders where I get to see a lot of my old friends who have moved away but who always come back for that ride.”

Add in a sunny day and the clear depth perception that goes with it, along with mild temperatures and the wide open spaces available around Yorkton, and there’s nothing better.

Fellow Yorkton rider Jolene Kindiak agrees.

Kindiak, who’s been riding since before she could even walk, said it’s having that ability to ditch-bang and ride those wide open spaces—and having friends along with you for the ride—that make a day memorable. But the pull of knowing that your ride is for something bigger than just your own enjoyment is something that adds to the overall experience—a pull Kindiak experienced first-hand as a member of the Prairie Women on Snowmobiles Ride for Breast Cancer Research

Taking part in this annual fundraising event in 2008, Kindiak experienced the challenge of riding seven days, 11 hours a day, over a total of 1,800 kilometres. While it was a gruelling trip, it also allowed her to experience the camaraderie of other avid female snowmobilers—a rare opportunity for Kindiak, who has spent the majority of her life trying to “keep up with the boys.” 

And while the entire seven-day experience rises to the top of her chart as one of the best she’s ever had—partly because her husband was able to join her as one of the pit crew and partly because of the amazing women she met along the way—one day in particular will forever be etched in Kindiak's memory.

“There was this one day where we went out in the morning and headed up north into the forest,” said Kindiak. “And the trees were all just hanging over the trail all capped with snow. It was just like driving through some sort of big fortress, and it was absolutely gorgeous and amazing to see. The sun was shining, and everything was sparkling because of the frost. It’s a day I’ll never forget.”

But as to whether it was her best day ever?

“I genuinely believe that every day I go out is the best day ever,” said Kindiak. “When you’ve been doing it since you were little, it becomes part of who you are. It’s my stress reliever and it’s my passion, but it’s also something I love because we can do it together as a family and as a group of friends.”

This sentiment was echoed by Smolinski.

“Getting together with friends and having a great day of riding together out here in Yorkton—where we’re still very fortunate to have a lot of open fields where we can find some great snow to go and play in—well, in my mind there’s just no other sport that offers that,” he said.

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