December 20th, 2013
5 Coolest New Winter Sports to Try
Skiing and snowboarding? Been there, done that. Mix things up by trying out one of these retro-cool—or newly popular—cold weather pursuits.
Snowboarding and skiing remain two of the most popular cold-weather sports, but they’re not the only ways to raise your heart rate as the mercury plunges. There are plenty of winter adventure activities designed to challenge both your body and brain. Get out of your comfort zone—and maybe even find a new passion—but trying out one these five cool wintertime sports.
Ice climbing If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, consider tackling ice climbing, a sport similar to rock climbing except that the terrain consists of frozen water instead of stone. Ice climbing can be a pricey sport to break into, first and most necessary is a reliable instructor, you’ll need crampons, ice axes, and a location with lots of ice, such as a mountaintop or glacier. However, several tour companies (which rent equipment) offer ice climbing on Alaska’s glaciers; some areas of the U.S., Canada, and Europe have indoor ice climbing walls that are ideal for beginners.
Fat biking A heavy snowfall no longer has to disrupt your biking routine. Fat biking is riding a bicycle with really fat tires. The tires are nearly four inches wide and they’re soft, making them ideal for gaining traction and allowing cyclists to ride in the snow. You may look a little silly riding a fat bike, but you’ll be getting a great winter workout while you do it. And you won’t have to put the bikes into storage during the summer, because they can also be used on beaches or other difficult terrain.
Broomball Broomball may be the best winter activity for folks who aren’t into hard-core sports or don’t live in a snowy climate. Broomball is played indoors on ice, just like hockey, but participants wear sneakers instead of skates and use plastic or rubber brooms instead of hockey sticks. As you might expect, wearing shoes on ice leads to a lot of spills and falls, and that’s part of the fun (knees and elbow pads recommended)! Many big cities offer broomball leagues, allowing friends to play in a relaxed, recreational environment.
Skeleton If racing down a curvy track on a small sled with no brakes at 80 miles per hour sounds like fun, skeleton is for you! A new addition to the roster of Winter Olympic sports in 2002, skeleton is similar to the luge. But skeleton riders go headfirst instead of feet-first, making the sport more appealing to hardcore thrill-seekers. A small number of skeleton tracks exist in North America, so if you’re unable to get to one of them, consider the more accessible sport of airboarding, which is essentially the same activity except that it takes place on a ski slope instead of a track.
Snowmobiling Thousands of snowmobile clubs can be found around the world. More than half of U.S. states have some level of snowmobile activity, often on trails established in forests or state parks. You don’t necessarily have to spend thousands of dollars to buy your own snowmobile. Companies in numerous states offer snowmobile rentals, which can start as low as $150 for a couple of hours, giving beginners the opportunity to try out the sport.
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own research, talk to local guides, and use your best judgment.
Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at http://quirkytravelguy.com.