There are more winter sports activities than just skiing as a reason to take a vacation to a snow covered wonderland. If you love the snow but don’t fancy the idea of skiing, why not consider other ways to enjoy some of the world’s most lovely winter destinations. Alpine scenery, crisp white powder and a very lively entertainment scene make winter sports holidays a fantastic all round experience. Here are some winter sports alternatives to skiing you might like to try.
If you’re a surf gal during the summer and love body boarding, you will probably love airboarding. It’s one of the relatively new winter sports and one that’s sure to give you an adrenaline rush. Airboarding is lying face down on an inflatable sled-type cushion to hurtle head first down a mountain. There is some degree of control to this which is achieved by shifting your weight to change direction and using the grooves on the underside of the cushion to control speed. Airboarding is not available at all winter resorts so be sure to check where to go.
2. Snow Shoeing
Snow shoes have long been a way to get around on snow, but it’s taken a long time for it to catch on as a sport. More like a snow trek than anything else, snowshoeing is rather more exacting than skiing. It is a brilliant way to enjoy fabulous mountain scenery.
3. Husky Sledding
I must confess, this would be my choice of the alternative winter sports. For one, it takes you away from the crowded traditional ski resorts into the wilderness and for two, you don’t require any specific degree of fitness. There are two options usually too. One is to go out as a passenger on a pulled sled with a driver, or two, learn how to handle the sled yourself and drive yourself. Places that offer husky sledding usually have a short taster course so you can decide if you want to learn to drive, and then book a full course.
If you have money to splurge on a winter sports vacation, heli-bob must be one of the ultimate adventure experiences. It certainly ensures that you get to the slopes in style. Heli-bob is a combination of a helicopter flight and a bobsleigh ride. You are picked up by helicopter and taken on a scenic flight over spectacular mountains and countryside while heading to a bobsleigh track. At the track you climb into a bobsleigh with a professional driver and then you hurtle at speeds of around 60mph through the narrow ice corridor twisting and turning around tight corners and bashing against steep banks. Whoosh, what a rush that must be!
This is probably the least accessible of winter sports, and it’s certainly unusual. Biathlon is long distance skiing combined with shooting. It originally began as training for Norwegian soldiers, but developed into a sport that demands endurance and accuracy. It’s generally unheard of until we see it on the Winter Olympics, but in the Nordic and Baltic countries it is very popular. There are also biathlon schools in the USA and Canada if you want to learn how to ski for a long period of time and shoot at targets 50 meters away.
6. Volcano Skiing
If you still love the idea of skiing but want to spice it up a bit, a spot of volcano skiing might be just the thing to grab your attention. You might have to go to some pretty far away places – like Chile - to try this, but heck it looks like fun. In practice, there’s nothing different to standard mountain skiing. The only reason to choose volcano skiing over mountain skiing is the volcano is active. This presents lava flows and lava lakes rather than glacial lakes and pine forests as the scenery.
7. Ice Skating
I know this isn’t one of the unusual winter sports but I wanted to include it to remind people it’s there. This is one sport you can do without going on vacation if you have a rink nearby. Ice skating is really good fun once you get over the initial bruises on your butt from the falls as you learn to balance. And, if you get good enough, other skating options open up for you such as ice hockey and speed skating – have you ever seen how fast those gals go?
I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried or is active in any of these winter sports. Are you one of them? Please share your experiences.