Apart from Christmas, winter is rubbish. It’s time we faced up to it. The weather is cold, the days are shorter and skidding on frosted AstroTurf is tantamount to walking on a bed of thumbtacks.
But there are those out there who not only play their sports exclusively through winter, but have made it their own. Teams on Tour have found the 7 weirdest, most unbelievable winter sports for you to look out for in between festive Premier League matches.
The origins of Yukigassen (or “Snow Battle”) lie in Japan, where we can only assume one rogue snowball fighting enthusiast sought to take his hobby to the next level; a professional sport. Yukigassen is essentially Call of Duty’s “Capture the Flag” played on a court with two teams on each side. Competitors even have to wear protective helmets with face shields – it’s that fierce.
Now if you thought skiing or snowboarding was the art of going downhill fast, wait until you see what happens when you attach yourself to a car, dirt bike, snowmobile or large animal (we’re talking reindeers) at the same time. Apparently, the result is called “Skijoring”, and it looks utterly bonkers.
Snow Kayaking is, quite simply, what happens when you take a kayak, an oar and a presumably insane pilot and put them on the kind of slope that even the most hardened skiers would think twice about taking on. This is no Sunday afternoon paddle either, Snow Kayaks reach average speeds of over 60kph… Yikes.
Did you know that Woks aren’t just for cooking? Us neither, but this sport proves both of us wrong and then some. Competitors race down either a snowy hill or an icy track at high speed, with nothing but a small piece of kitchenware separating them from the ground. Wok Racing is in fact is so extreme that it was removed from the Winter X-Games due to safety concerns.
We’re pretty sure that this is the only kind of skiing in the world where you’re supposed to end up flying off the end of a cliff – literally. Speedflyers begin as relatively meek and mild skiers before plunging off the Cliffside, the race then turns into an aerial pursuit as competitors launch a parachute, or a more extreme “speed wing”. You can’t make this stuff up.
Fun fact: This is a crazy winter sport that Britain actually invented! It happened in the 1870s when a group of intoxicated winter sportsmen in St Moritz decided to find out what happened when you went down a skeleton track on a toboggan… Head first. It’s since become one of the world’s most extreme winter events and actually tries to warn off competitors by showing them a montage of injuries sustained in the sport before riding.
The less extreme but possibly more hilarious little brother to Wok Racing, this is fast, furious fun that’s not to be sniffed at – competitors have been known to fly down the courses at speeds of 110kph. It all started in the 1970s when ski-lift operators used shovels to ride to the bottom of the slopes, today? The world championships are held in Mexico every year. Can you dig it?
North Pole Marathon
Here it is; The Daddy of all unbelievable winter sports, the North Pole Marathon. Now we aren’t sure who exactly decided to stage a race in one of the harshest natural environments known to man, but a 42km course packed with snowy terrain, uneven ground and frozen lakes creates one of the most incredible sporting contests on the planet. Just remember to pack those snowshoes.