With the Rideau Canal Skateway open and indoor hockey resuming across Ottawa, everyone is rushing to get their equipment tuned up and ready to hit the ice.
In Ottawa this weekend, skate sharpening seemed to be at the top of the priority list for everyone.
"Right now we’re just about to hit two hours waiting time," says Leah Mercer, supervisor at Play It Again Sports in Barrhaven. "As soon as we open up there’s people waiting outside the store, and they’re racing to the back just to get their place in line."
One of the most popular outdoor activities this winter is skating, and the recent nice weather is adding to everyone’s excitement to get outdoors.
"Ever since the lockdown has ended we have had an absolute bombardment of sharpening," says Mercer.
The canal seems like the perfect place to get some fresh air and exercise, at the same time as practice physical distancing. Hundreds of kids and adults also returned to hockey arenas across Ottawa this weekend following the end of the COVID-19 lockdown and stay-at-home order.
"Yesterday was so busy we had the door locked for pretty much the majority of the day just because we were so swamped. And we had a lineup all the way to The Shoe Company, of people just waiting to get into the store," says Mercer.
Skate sharpening shops have been packed for weeks trying to catch up on the demand. And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Jake Dory is part of the skate sharpening crew at Play It Again Sports. He says he’s been sharpening roughly 200 pairs of skates per day over the past few days.
"I love skate sharpening, honestly," says Dory. "It’s like a meditative process for me."
Play It Again Sports was not the only busy spot. Several shops told CTV News Ottawa on Sunday they had a two to three hour wait for sharpening. One place even told us we couldn’t get skates back until Tuesday because they’re backed up two to three days.
Most of the customers dropping off their skates at Play It Again aren’t surprised the wait times are so long.
"Just because of COVID, we would figure that a lot of people are doing outdoor activities because there's not much else to do right now," said customer Julie Tremblay.
"I think with everything starting to open up again and the hockey leagues are getting going, people just want to get out and get some exercise," adds customer Guy Oldford.
It seems like skating is more popular now, than it has ever been. And for good reason. Some even bringing out skates that haven’t been used for years.
"I haven’t gotten them sharpened for a couple of years, they were pretty bad and we want to go skating on the canal," said Tremblay. "There's a lot of ponds near our place. So we’re really excited to get out there."
For those who still haven’t had the chance to get their skates sharpened, better act fast. Wait times seem to be getting longer by the day.