Many of us love alpine or downhill skiing which, in any normal year, is equally fun and healthy. But, let’s face it, it can also be a bit repetitive and, given COVID-19, the skiing season 2020/21 is nothing but a distant dream anyway. So, for the ones among you looking for different and exciting experiences, here are favourites of unusual winter sports which you can to try out now.
Read on and decide if you’re ready to spice up your winter sport fun (this or next snowy season):
Snowshoeing in the French Alps
There are many reasons why snowshoeing is great. For us though it’s mostly the mix of being able to enjoy an untouched, beautiful winter landscape and not having to deal with any crowds – which makes for a calming experience. And, from a practical perspective, it is inexpensive and you can snowshoe pretty much wherever there is snow!
There are many locations across Europe and the USA where you can snowshoe but Morzine-Avoriaz in France is a great place to start exploring the mountains on snowshoes, away from the usually busy pistes.
Yukigassen in Northern Europe, Canada or Japan
Yukigassen is is a snowball fighting-competition originally from Japan but, today, the sport is played in many European countries as well as in Australia and Canada. Yukigassen is a team sport played between two teams each with seven players. The game is played on a specially designed court and comes with several small wall-like barriers. For each match, each team gets to use 90 snowballs. The objective for each team is to get all the players of the opposing team out (i.e. hit by a snowball), or capture the opposing team’s flag. The team that wins two sets first is the winner of the match.
Curious? Here are some tips on how to get started with some serious snowball fighting at home or wherever you are.
Skijojring in the USA or Finland
If you haven’t heard of it yet, skijoring is a winter sport in which a skier is pulled by a horse, one or more dogs or a motor vehicle. Essentially, skijoring is about finding balance and harmony between the skier and, for example, their dogs’ running and pulling power. Skijoring even had its Olympic debut at St Moritz 1928 but, unfortunately, never appeared on the Olympic programme again. You can go skijoring in various locations across the USA and in Europe.
Ready to skijor with your own dog at home? Here are some great tips on what you need and how to get started!
Fat biking in the Alps
Fat bikes are bicycles which are optimised for an off-road experience through its oversized tires. There are quite a few reasons why fat biking is great. One reason is that it is a great and challenging workout which can help burning up to 1,500 calories – in just one hour that is! “Because it’s not weight bearing, the recovery time is less despite the balance and core strength it requires,” adds Andrew Gardiner, a former ski coach. Also, fat biking can take you into terrain which is otherwise simply unaccessible. Bikepacker Joe Cruz agrees by saying that “for me, the fat bike is for the 10 percent of terrain on my trips that can’t be ridden on any other kind of bike; it’s for the realization of the absolute limit of what bikes can do off road. They’re perfect”.
And, please enjoy this ski ballet video just for its technical skill and beauty: