It was the kind of cold and bitterly windy day that makes even the most hardened Manitoban shudder.
Just imagine how the Winnipeg Blue Bombers players from the southern United States felt Friday as they practised in snow, blowing snow and a wind chill of -21.
“As a Louisiana kid, this is insane,” Bombers receiver L’Damian Washington said. “It’s fine for the first five or 10 minutes but after that, once your toes go numb, it’s downhill from there. It’s definitely one of the coldest days of my life, by far.”
On Thursday it was the coldest Nov. 9s of anybody’s life in Winnipeg.
On that day, a record low temperature of -21 C was recorded and the Bombers practised in that as well.
“It’s my luck as a Louisiana kid to get up here for that,” Washington laughed.
“We’re just trying to have some fun, have a strong mentality, no matter what, just go out there and focus because if you let it bring you down, it can turn into a bad day real fast.”
The Bombers played in similar conditions last Friday night in Calgary and won 23-5. And they’re expected to get a reprieve for Sunday’s game against the Edmonton Eskimos with the forecast calling for sun and a high of -3 C for the West semifinal.
It will likely feel like a warm day for them by that point.
“When you become a professional it becomes mind over matter,” said receiver Chris Givens, who hails from Jackson, Miss.
“If you go out there thinking about how cold it is, you’re going to have a tough practice. You just have to focus on the task at hand and try to block out how cold it really is. The way we’re feeling right now, it could be negative 30 degrees and we’re going to come out there like it’s 100 degrees. We’re going to play hard. We love to play in the cold, we love to hit in the cold. We’re going to come out and play with that edge.”
The weather played a factor in Friday’s practice, as running back Timothy Flanders fell on the snowy field and did not get up immediately. Though he wasn’t available to the media — often a sign a player is injured — Bombers coach Mike O’Shea said he believes Flanders will be fine.
Meanwhile, some of the players said they truly enjoyed practising in the harsh conditions.
“We enjoyed it,” cornerback Chris Randle said. “Something about the snowfall makes you feel like a little kid again.”