Depending on your preferences, winter is a time to sit at home and take shelter or kick it into high gear and head outside. If you ask me, the latter course of action makes more sense. After all, there is no shortage of thrilling activities to lure you outside, even in the gloomy dead of winter.
As a tourist, you might also want to experience a range of extreme sports and some of the most magnificent places in the world. The only problem is now to make a choice of where to go and what to do. You want to pick the sport that will rock your world, don’t you? Well, here is an ultimate guide that may help you reach the decision and get the ball rolling.
Let us kick off our winter and extreme sports list with one of the most recognizable disciplines, ski jumping. This sport is certainly not for amateurs. Soaring off a 150-meter ski jump and ensuring a crash-free landing demands peerless technique and hours and hours of practice. Once you master it, though, few things in life can match the joy of flying and descending like a hawk. Single jumps, multi-jumps, and lessons are available all year round, which is amazing, to say the least.
Big mountain skiing
Skiing offers a plenty of incredible opportunities and sometimes it is best to think big. The discipline of big mountain skiing encourages you to ski down a venue in a fun and innovative way. First off, you pick a more difficult terrain and then get ready to throw in some tricks and airs. In a competitive arena, there are judges, who determine your score. You have the freedom to select your line or route down the course and the more challenging it is the better score you can hope to accomplish.
The sport and hobby of ice skating are as popular as ever, with participation at an all time high. There is a multitude of sub-disciplines you can get into, such as figure skating. I would also mention a bit of an oddball, skate skiing, which is more skating than skiing really, but occurs at wide, groomed trails. All sorts of ice skating actually represent a killer workout that involves a lot of weight transferring and balance, so do not get your skates on and dance on the glittery surface.
Speed skating deserves a bit more attention. As the name suggests, it brings more speed to the picture and includes race-like competitions. To get a hold of the basics, people most often go to the oval, and after a while, they transition to lap riding on an ice resurfacing machine. Moreover, you can take a global scope and find world-class speed skating venues that have hosted the Olympic Games. Public skating and lessons are also available in many places and it is not hard to get the show on the road.
Ice Hockey is practically synonymous with the winter sports. The NFL has certainly inspired many individuals to put the skates on for the first time. Still, to become a good player, one has to first hone skating skills, achieve superior balance, and be able to do tricks like skate backwards. And if you do not mean to play matches, you could also try hockey skating, which is a bit more aggressive and faster-paced than figure skating. It poses a peculiar mix of football’s brutality and beauty of ice dancing.
Walking around in blizzard while you are waist-deep in snow is usually not a voluntary situation. Well, with snowshoes, this predicament becomes a challenging and exciting endeavor. They look like big tennis rackets tied to the bottom of your foot. Their function is to spread the weight evenly and enable you to move through even the most treacherous terrain without getting drowned in white powder. In any event, snowshoeing is a great aerobic exercise that various types of people can come to enjoy.
Luge / Skeleton
If you have never heard of this sport, rest assured that you are not the only one. Nevertheless, luge is an excellent discipline for those who have an insatiable need for speed. In a nutshell, you are supposed to swiftly descend down a giant twisting tube of ice on a sled. The only things protecting you from a disaster are lighting reflexes, sublime control, helmet and a skin-tight suit. An even riskier of the sport is menacingly dubbed skeleton and requires you to go down headfirst. I warned you!
At first, snowboarders were frowned upon by the skiers, but today their discipline is one of the most popular of all winter sports. As a result, snowboarding takes place in countless resorts across the globe: It is estimated that half of all facilities in Europe and North America have half pipes and jumps. If you prefer BMX over a racing bike and consider yourself to be the cool kid, the chances are snowboarding is your cup of tea.
Invented by the British, curling is a discipline that has quickly gained prominence and established itself as an Olympic sport. As you may know, the purpose is straightforward: You need to slide heavy polished granite stone along the ice surface and hit the target. Believe me, it is much easier said than done because this sport is deceivingly hard to do well. Oh, there is also that frantic sweeping that could remind you of the chores after a wild party at a parent’s house.
Modern-day snowmobiling appeared in the 60s and today, it is quite popular sport in the US, especially Yellowstone National Park in Montana. Some people simply do not fancy the idea of trusting their own legs or a bunch of animals to propel them forward through piles of powder. Instead, they rely on snowmobiles to ride across the rough and scenic terrain. There is hardly a quicker and a more convenient way to navigate long distances and cover a lot of open ground.
There are many types of skiing among which cross-country variation stands out. It is a fast and seemingly effortless discipline. You basically ski on a flat land and need to work a great deal of sweat to traverse distances. Think of it as a winter equivalent of a marathon or walking on skis. Nordic people absolutely love cross-country skiing and Norway is, hands down, the best place to take it on. If you get lucky, you might even see captivating Northern Lights as a bonus.
For a different kind of skiing experience, ponder on heli-skiing. You will face inaccessible slopes and never-ending descents with unbroken powder, lots of it. There is also no climbing equipment and you cannot count on the help of a hovering helicopter or a lift line. That may seem like a surefire way to break your neck, however, note that heli-skiing is subject to strict regulation in regards to landing zones, safety, noise pollution, and disruption of underdeveloped areas.
This sport was born in European Alps back in the 19th century, and since then, it has evolved into prestigious activity for those with pockets deep enough to afford pricey slopes. Still, if Switzerland is out of your league, it is possible to find nice destinations in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Scotland. Just do not jump into this without proper equipment and skills. Find an instructor, stick to beginner slopes, and take it slow at first. Remember that aside from guts and determination, you also need extreme sports clothing.
Daredevils and those who find common winter sports not extreme enough can try out ice diving. Ending up in crystal-clear water encased beneath ice can be rather scary, which is why this is not recommended for claustrophobic people and spring chickens. Of course, I would not dare go there without a dry suit, unless you are a hardened Russian, of course. And if this exploit sounds like too much to handle, you have a slightly less intimidating sport of winter swimming, which Finns swear by.
Having a team of Huskies whisking you sled across a picturesque landscape is something most people have seen in movies and novels. Yet, this discipline attracts many sporty types to long trails and amazing competitions. Perhaps the most spectacular one is 1,500-mile Iditarod Trail Sledge Dog Race in Alaska. Just bear in mind that Huskies are fierce, loud, and difficult to control, which is to say you should test your mastery and affinity with these beautiful, but wild dogs.
This one is sure to awaken the inner child and bring back fond memories. As an adult, you can finally fulfill your dreams and find that hill that seems to never end, slope you always craved for. In countries like Austria, there are much amazing tobogganing havens, with hills that take up to 50 minutes to navigate all the way down. This is as close as you can get to the eternal tobogganing bliss. What goes up must always come down, you know.
After browsing through an action sports blog, I discovered a fresh new sport I was not aware of. Rock climbing may be adrenaline-pumping, but why not go an extra mile? Ice climbing takes you countless escapades to majestic wonders of winter, such as frozen waterfalls and ice-covered rock slabs. There are also indoor ice walls that are not to be underestimated either. These setting have left even the most seasoned climbers unable to reach the top.
Snow mountain biking
How does thundering down the snowy slopes on your mountain bike sound? This sport is perfect for those who do not see enough snow to justify the investment in ski or snowboarding equipment. Of course, regular bikers are also inclined to bring some variety and make things interesting. Therefore, there is no need to hibernate your beloved bike during winter. Witness the splendor of white scenery and conquer difficult terrain on two wheels.
Every four years, when Winter Olympics roll in, we get a chance to see pro athletes in action. Biathlon combines cross-country skiing with shooting guns from a standing and prone position, resulting in one of the most versatile disciplines. The ski route is typically broken up by several shooting rounds, putting all kinds of skills to the test. Just imagine having to bring your heart rate to hit the mark after skiing. Well, you should be able to find local biathlon association and see it for yourself.
Snow kiting, also known as kite skiing, is one of the alternatives to traditional skiing. It might not be the safest winter sport out there, but it is a ton of fun. Yes, you guessed it right: One has to harness the kinetic power of the kite to glide over ice or snow. This plays out much like water-based kite-boarding, but in snow kiting, you use different footwear- snowboards or skis. A wide and open field is what you need to experience the sport at its finest.
Similar to bodyboarding, this sport is one of those hot new activities that attract young thrill-seekers. It involves careening through plumes of fresh snow on your stomach with the face-first. The airboard itself is an inflatable contraption with grooves that allow steering. With it, one can reach close to 100 km per hour, which is pretty impressive. The only problem is that for now only the selected few resorts to offer airboarding, so make sure to do your research and pinpoint them.
Let it snow
A winter time does not have to put an end to outdoor activities. There is a long list of extreme winter sports you can engage in to get the speed going, battle through the winter weather, and visit untamed wilderness. No matter what floats your boat in terms of winter sports, do not hesitate to feel the rush of adrenaline and get active. You can reap various health benefits, fill your life with sheer awesomeness, and forge everlasting memories. There are no excuses: Expand your horizons with fun and exhilarating sports and challenge yourself to be at your best.