Winter brings hockey, skiing, and depending on the year, the Winter Olympics. We’re all pretty aware of even some of the more obscure winter sports, like curling or dog sledding, but have you ever heard of skijoring? If you want to learn about unusual and uncommon winter sports, keep reading; we’ve put together some of the most interesting, rarest, and coolest winter sports in the world.
Taking two great things and mixing them together is an American tradition, and it doesn’t stop with food. In Minnesota, the sport of skijoring combines the perennial winter favorite skiing with dog sledding. The skier puts on their gear and ties themselves to just one or two dogs instead of a pack like traditional dog sledding requires.
While the skier—attached to the dog with a towline and harness—directs their skis, the dog provides all the power, creating an incredible exercise experience for dog and human. In recent years, modified bikes and scooters over dry land have become more common during the winter when there is no snow, appropriately named “drylanding”. Though if we’re going to be honest, skijoring sounds way more like a winter sport than drylanding, but hey, no judgement. If you try skijoring, remember to cover up and dress in layers so you aren’t at risk of frostbite while out in the backcountry.
What if normal snowboarding isn’t exciting enough for you, and you want to spice things up? Well if you live in Utah and you’re willing to purchase a very sturdy power kite, you can ski at incredible speeds and actually leave the ground, a combination that sounds more dangerous than it is. Snowkiters use the kite—which has the strength of a small parachute—to get more lift and to return to the ground safely, effectively marrying kite sailing and snowboarding. Imagine catching incredible air and achieving speeds of over 50 mph, while still safely anchored to your kite! It might be difficult to get travel insurance for this type of snowboarding trip, though.
Ice fishing is admittedly only for a select group of thrill seekers. It combines the coldness of being out on a frozen lake with the fun of waiting, but shark fishing in Greenland is a totally different game. At lengths up to 21 feet, the Greenland shark is a monster predator and it’s certainly not boring. Visitors to the majestic town of Uummannaq are treated to incredible views and a truly challenging fishing expedition, one that you will not forget, just remember to wear mittens.
This one is pretty unique, even for this list. It’s exactly what it sounds like, only it’s actually more complex than that. Participants race downhill on snow shovels, which you can wax, shape and modify to go as fast as you need to in order to win. While it might not sound exciting, seasoned pros can reach speeds over 60 mph, which seems incredible. One of the biggest skills for this type of event is being able to balance while still maintaining a competitive speed, something that a shovel doesn’t make easy.
Imagine if snowball fights were competitive—that’s yukigassen. The Japanese sport of yukigassen combines teams of throwers and runners and creates a fusion between snowball throwing and capture-the-flag. The result is a whirlwind of activity, exploding snow and dexterous darting to avoid being hit. The first team to get the opposing flag without being hit by a snowball wins. You may want to wear goggles for this one—both to keep snow out of your eyes and to protect you from snow blindness.
Are You Daring Enough To Try Any Of These Unusual Winter Sports?
Skiing and snowboarding have a broad appeal and most people can enjoy them without adding anything, but for some, the thrills just aren’t enough without a little something extra. Have you tried or watched any of these sports, or are they just a little too unusual?