12 Winter Sports You Should Try This Year
Even if the calendar doesn’t agree, winter is officially here. The leaves are off the trees and several feet of snow have been dumped on various regions of the country, meaning that it’s time to embrace the cold and start figuring out ways to stay active and have fun instead of succumbing to the yearly urge to burrow into your bed and never leave. If traditional activities like sledding and ice skating don’t really do it for you, check out these 12 ways to get your blood pumping and inject a little sunshine and adrenaline into those gloomy winter days.
1. Shovel Racing
What’s that? You’ve never slid downhill on a shovel? You should probably start, especially since all it takes is a snowy hill and a shovel. If you’re serious about competition, New Mexico’s Angel Fire Resort hosts the Shovel Racing World Championships every winter.
Not to be confused with the Scottish sport of hurling, which takes place on grass, curling takes place on ice and involves brooms, brushes, curling stones and slippery shoes; the FW describes it as a mixture of “billiards combined with bowling and sweeping.”
Fans of kitesurfing and windsurfing will find that their water skills might translate well to the slopes with snowkiting: a method of skiing or snowboarding in which the snowkiter is attached to a harness and a kite and then dragged up or down hills at great speeds. It requires some equipment and some practice, but what winter sport doesn’t?
According to Best Health Magazine, junkboarding is done by taking an old snowboard and cutting it down the middle, then flipping the halves so the inside edges are now the outside edges. The shorter, wider “skis” allow junkboarders to swoop over surfaces (including grass and gravel) with only a dusting of snow, making the ski season last even when the snow doesn’t.
Similar to snowkiting, kitewinging uses a hang-glider-type device to increase the speeds of skiers and snowboarders — only with a kitewing, there are no lines. You hold the sail in your hands, and, according to Kitewing.com, you can learn how to use the sail in about half an hour. Kitewingers can reach speeds of up to 62 mph, and stopping is as easy as dropping the kite, since you’re not tethered to it.
Men’s Health writes that airboarding is like boogie boarding in the snow. Using an inflatable raft with grooves on the underside that help control speed, thrill-seekers head down mountains headfirst at speeds of 60 to 80 mph, according to Airboarders.com; it’s similar to a snow tube, but more steerable. You still have to drag your feet on the ground to stop, though.
7. Snow Kayaking
Don’t let your kayak sit in the basement and gather cobwebs over the winter; bring it out to a slope for some snow kayaking! It’s exactly like kayaking on a river, except you’re sliding downhill on a snow-covered mountain (ideally with a helmet in case you crash into a tree).
8. Fat Biking
Fat biking began in the 1990s in Alaska as an alternative method of traversing the Iditarod Trail, according to Men’s Health; like many of the sports on this list, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Using two fat tires (about 3.7 inches wide) with lots of gripping power, mountain bikes are able to more easily handle snow and ice, allowing riders to continue hitting the trails even when they’re covered in snow.
9. Ice Boating
Yet another water sport adapted for freezing temperatures, ice boating requires a boat with runners instead of a keel, resulting in the ability to “sail” across an icy surface at high speeds. According to USA Today, ice boaters have reached speeds of over 100 mph, although 55 mph is the more common average. It’s a pricy sport, but it provides plenty of thrills for nautical enthusiasts.
10. Ice Blocking
Some winter sports require expensive equipment and extensive training — not ice blocking. Budget-conscious adventurers need only a block of ice and a hill; it doesn’t even have to be a snowy hill. (In fact, the FW says that a grassy hill is best for sliding.) Sit on the block of ice and let it slide! You can even ice block in the summer, if that’s what you’re into.
11. Wok Racing
It seems there is an endless supply of activities that involve sitting on things and riding them down snowy slopes. Wok racing is one of these. The Wall Street Journal writes that racers “sit in the middle of kitchen-quality Chinese woks” and slide down icy chutes used for bobsledding and luging. Although wok racing originally began as a joke, there is now an official championship race. As the WSJ notes, woks “weren’t designed for easy handling on ice,” so sliding on one can be quite tricky. If you don’t have a bobsledding track handy, however, you can try out your wok-handling skills on any snowy hill.
12. Ski Ballet
Ah, the magic of the snowy slopes… the grace of someone doing what looks like figure skating, but with skis… the shiny gold shirts… what’s not to love? Ski ballet was, according to Slate, a legit competitive freestyle skiing event for years; ballet skiers had 90 seconds to perform a choreographed routine to music and, like other freestyle skiers, were judged on their “style and flair.” So bust out your favorite shiny outfit and decide whether you want a jazzy pop tune or a power ballad, because you’ve got some ski ballet to learn this winter.