Havin' a snow ball

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

Lenny Williams got off the bus and took off his shirt.

We're pretty sure the Edmonton Eskimos defensive back was one of the few who did that yesterday in wintry Winnipeg. It was, after all, the first time the Lake Charles, La., native had seen snow.

Edmonton receiver Kelly Campbell, an Atlanta native, asked how many inches had fallen in advance of today's CFL East Division semifinal against the Bombers.

He scoffed when told it wasn't much.

"It's not that much? Well, it's more than I've ever seen in my life, so that's a lot to me," he said. "I don't really see snow down south. I stepped off that plane and saw that ... it kind of hit me a little bit."

Campbell brought five or six pairs of shoes to Winnipeg, all featuring various cleat lengths. The man in charge of Canad Inns Stadium, however, said traction won't be a problem today thanks to the AstroPlay turf's rubber base.

"The field is fine," manager of stadium operations Kevin Austin said. "It's not like the AstroTurf surface like we had back in '91. It doesn't freeze up. The blades still freeze, but they're easily broken up and the field remains soft. It's still a playable surface. Cleats still dig in. It's fine."

CLEAR THE STANDS

As for the piles of snow in the seats, a massive work project to remove it started at 5 p.m. yesterday and was expected to go past midnight. The Winnipeg Football Club paid $8.50 an hour to more than 200 people who showed up to clear the stands.

If it took seven hours, that'd work out to an approximate $12,000 financial hit for the club, which bought the rights to the game from the CFL.

Even club president and CEO Lyle Bauer and director of marketing Jerry Maslowsky helped out last night. If the snow didn't quit by midnight as expected, some of the shovellers might be asked back again this morning.

The snowballs were flying in the Bomber locker-room yesterday, with the main culprits running back Joe Smith and receiver Romby Bryant. Smith even took the media outside to prove how good he was at making snow angels.

Winnipoeg placekicker and California native Alexis Serna has seen snow before, but never played in it. It's unlikely, however, to be as much of a factor today as the wind, which is expected to howl out of the north at 30 km/h.

"If I can hit the ball solid and feel confident in my kicking, then I can kick in anything," Serna said, moments after getting hit in the back with a snowball from Smith. "I feel confident in my kicking right now, so hopefully it carries over into the game and I can have a good game and help my team win."

Serna said the elementary school-like atmosphere in the locker-room was a positive sign for the Blue and Gold.

"There's a good energy going on right now," he said.


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