A few fallen leaves and a little frost shouldn’t stop the serious competitor from getting out there and beating some fools into submission. Cold weather isn’t a hindrance to the world of sport, it merely adds an environmental obstacle into the mix that can turn the tide for anyone who knows how to use it to their advantage. Nearly everyone is familiar with the tired old sports of skiing, snowboarding, and hockey, and if you like those, then go and enjoy, but for the true frozen fighter and polar powerhouses among us, it might be time to try something a little bit different.
When you want a change of pace and are seeking a weird new way to work out those winter kinks, here’s an array of 17 strange sports that you do in the cold. Most require limited equipment and almost no training, just like all the best things in life.
Please, be careful engaging in these activities, as they can all be mortally hazardous.
Ballet is hard and anyone who says otherwise has never tried to go en pointe through the entire Nutcracker suite. Adding in poles, skis, and thermal gear creates a nearly impossible artform that’s part dance, part skiing, part acrobatics. The best part about ski ballet is that there’s no loser. If you do it well, it’s gorgeous. If you do it badly, it’s hilarious and will leave you giggling all the way to the emergency room for your wrenched groin.
Instead of navigating the flow and eddies of a whitewater river, you can use gravity and the paths of the snow to engage in this take on sledding that’s far more frightening than it sounds. Instead of dodging rocks, you’re going to be avoiding trees as you careen down a slope, unable to bail out like you would with a simple toboggan. When inner tubing has lost its luster, this is the next “logical” step.
So, you’ve gotten yourself a pair of skis, but hate the idea of hitting the hill along with every other snow bunny, waiting in long lift lines, and contending with the drunk tools sitting around at the base. Then it’s time to attach yourself to a horse, a motorcycle, a set of dogs, or anything else that moves to find the unbridled fun (read: stark terror) of being drug along like a water skier over the unforgiving ground. Make sure you add in some jumps for good measure.
The Japanese competition of snowball fighting, Yukigassen is a brutal game of dodgeball ramped up to be more than a little dangerous. You’ll need two teams of seven and a whole array of pre-made snowballs, as well as protective gear to keep your face and head from feeling the sting of the balls. Believe that you’ll be grateful for the padding when it’s all over.
Snowy cities like Boston and New York have already put this into practice with a lot of weird results. Like a soap box derby using shopping carts pulled and pushed by people, you can start a whole league in your neighborhood with a few folks, a decked-out cart, and great costumes.
Forget about the Quidditch players running around with a broomstick betwixt their gams. Shovel racing puts naught but a chunk of steel between you and the ground, along with a control stick jammed right into your family jewels. Capable of being done with a standard shovel, the pros prefer tricked out shovels that aren’t actually good for digging.
Here’s the poor person’s version of the shovel race – though if you can’t afford a shovel, a wok might be out of your price range too. Climb into a steel dish and hop down the hill without even the comfort of a handle to guide you and you’ll soon be riding an adrenaline high right into winter Nirvana. You can even chain them together for a bobsled feel.
Though beer isn’t technically a requirement of Ice Blocking, it can certainly help. A grassy or snowy hill coupled with a giant block of ice and a thin pad for a saddle is all your team needs to start your own racing league. True, it’s drunken frat shenanigans, but don’t knock it until you’ve done a few runs yourself.
The amateur version of this is the polar bear contests held every year where grizzled old men tempt death by heart failure by leaping into the freezing water in their skivvies. For the upgraded version, you need insulated diving equipment and a desire to see sea life under the ice.
Speed Flying AKA Blade Running
A little bit of hang-gliding and parasailing coupled with careening down a hill, anyone with a fear of heights, speed, danger, or embracing death by tree might want to give this a miss. Anyone else: get a parachute, get some skis, get a big hill, and get your will updated and notarized.
Not really a sport, but more of a spectacle, wrenchers who like to tweak their snowmobiles and hit the track will enjoy this mix of motocross and snow. If you want to combine this with Skijoring, we’re not going to stop you, and will happily notify your next of kin.
True, you’ll need to get a specialized boat for this that is mounted on skids that can move across the ice, but once you do there’s no end to the enjoyment that can be had on a blustery day. It’s paddleboarding and windsurfing meets ice skating and a hell of good time.
Snow makes everything more challenging, especially hitting a ball off the ground while riding a horse. You’ll need to be a master equestrian to do this right, and have a steed or two that relish cold weather. The real players do it without saddle, bit, or bridle to enhance the difficulty, and give the animals more fun.
Ice Cross Downhill
Speed skating is tough, but put in the added danger of doing it with gravity pulling you down and the sweet pugilism of hockey and you’re really going all in. It’s a beating that will leave you wrung out, black and blue, and aching to do it again.
Here’s another sledding offshoot that was actually taken out of the Olympics due to danger. Using nothing but a tiny sled that resembles a skeleton (hence the name) you go diving headfirst down a hill. To do it, you can use any sled, but for the love of all that is holy, put on a helmet and a mouth guard, if only to reduce cleanup later on.
Mountain biking is a fine sport on its own, and if you take a fat bike into the hills, you can even do it when there’s a little fluff on the ground. Ski biking takes it to a new tier by slicking up the bottom of your cycle with a set of boards. Due to the fact your weight is spread out further than it is on skis, you can often get more speed this way than doing standard downhill, for that extra rush you’ve been missing.
If you haven’t heard of Broomball, it’s time to educate yourself. It’s hockey sans the gear, the sticks, the puck, and skates. A frozen lake or a street, some literal brooms, a couple makeshift goals, and whatever ball you have lying around are all that is needed.