A Windsor resident, who was born and raised in Costa Rica, has converted his summer passion into a winter one.

Cristian Sanchez, 32, feared he would have to give up his love of surfing when he moved to Canada.

"It's part of my life,” says Sanchez. “I don't know if I could live without surfing.”

A few years ago, he fell in love with a Canadian teaching English abroad. After getting married, they decided to move to Canada.

After a few months in Windsor, and as the cool temperatures approached, he traveled to Port Bruth, just outside of London and witnessed a group of people surfing in the frigid cold, what they call winter surfing.

For Sanchez, everything changed after that.

He starting visiting areas across Essex County to see if this "winter surfing" could be possible closer to home.

"It's really exciting, it's like being a pioneer, an explorer basically,” says Sanchez. “We spent many hours driving along the coast looking for good spots and good waves because no one has recorded this before."

He hit Kingsville, Wheatly, Point Pelee, and Leamington - discovering winter surfing is possible with the right weather conditions.  Andrew Wyton of VegHead Productions filmed video of Sanchez surfing in the icy water.

"The first time I went surfing I was really scared,” says Sanchez. “I had no experience in cold water, had no experience with the snow. I wasn't sure about what was going to happen that day. The only way to know is by jumping in the water and seeing what happens."

The experience was much different then back home.

"This is pretty hard,” says Sanchez. “Most of the time it's a mental game."

He says it's much different when you are in fresh water.

“Things don't float the same as they do in salt water or the ocean,” says Sanchez. “So you have to deal with a lot of weight, you have your wet suit, your gloves."

A way to continue his passion like never before.

"Surfing in the Great Lakes is like starting from the beginning,” he says. “I’m learning, starting right from the bottom again."

Sanchez says he wants to explore all of the Great Lakes to size up their potential.

Lake Erie surfing video courtesy of Andrew Wyton and VegHead Productions.