October 14, 2019
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Forget skiing – have you tried these unusual winter sports?
Think about traditional winter sports and you conjure up images of snowboarders carving their way down the slopes or skiers nimbly gliding across fresh white powder. But there are a whole host of other weird and wonderful outdoor winter sports to try this season. 
 
While the UK isn’t always guaranteed a good delivery of the white stuff, our European neighbours usually end up dressed in plenty of it. With an additional 13 million Brits indicating they would be looking to switch up their summer holiday in preference of a winter getaway, ski fields and winter cabins are filling up faster than ever before.
 
Before you start experimenting with any of these wacky and wonderful winter activities, remember to protect yourself from the unexpected with winter sports insurance. There are plenty of risks out on the slopes so make sure you’re covered before you pull on those ski boots!
 
Let’s take a look at some of the most unusual winter sports right now…

1.Skijoring

Kicking off this list of unusual winter activities is a sport not for the faint of heart. With a name derived from the Norwegian word ‘skikjøring’ which means ski driving, the sport involves a person on skis being pulled by a motor vehicle, dog or even a horse at high speed. There are a few differences between horse-drawn or dog-based Skijoring, mainly being that forward propulsion is mainly derived from the horse and can be viewed akin to snow-based water skiing. Dogs, on the other hand, require most of the motion to be produced by the skier while they give a little assistance.
A person on skis being pulled by a horse through the snowAlthough not as popular as many other winter sports, it was included in the 1928 winter Olympic games in St. Moritz. The sport is believed to have originated in Scandinavia as a cousin of the older winter activity, Pulka, which involves a skier or dog sledge pulling a small low-slung sled to transport goods and supplies.

2.Wok racing

Don’t be fooled, this sport is exactly as the name suggests. Participants speed their way downhill along a bobsled or luge track sat inside a food-grade wok. This obscure yet intriguing sport was invented by a German TV host and entertainer, originally inspired by a bet. Launching on a German TV program in 2003, there was a second world championship held in 2004, with most participants who entered being B-list celebrities.
 
However, that hasn’t stopped some professional athletes trying their hand at this crazy winter activity, including the Jamaican bobsled team. There are two variations of the sport, either for individuals or as a team, with the latter combining four woks. Not without a little risk, competitors in wok racing are heavily protected wearing gear, similar to that of ice hockey players, in a bid to avoid injury.

3.Kite skiing

Perhaps one of the less bizarre winter sports to make the cut is kite skiing, sometimes known as snowkiting. Not too dissimilar to water-based kiteboarding, kite skiing uses kite, or wind power, to glide across snow or ice. The kite power becomes especially handy to increase velocity to launch over large jumps.
A man kite skiing across a frozen lakeIt’s said there is some heritage in the formation of the sport thanks to paratroopers in WWII who used kites to make supply deliveries in the Alps. Kite skiers connect into snowboards rather than water-based boards and the more daring will occasionally get air.
 

4.Skibobbing

When it comes to the weird and wacky, this one certainly fits the bill. Trade your bicycle wheels for skis and hit the slopes to give this one a try. Given its semblance to a bike, the sport is also referred to as ski biking or snowbiking. In order to be defined as skibobbing, there also needs to be a set of foot skis instead of pedals.
 
Developed in the late nineteenth-century and used as a form of transportation around the Alps, the sport was popularised in the 1950s when a race was initiated, with courses normally running 3-5km in length. The sport was initially designed for those who suffer from weak knees that rendered alpine skiing troublesome, however, it has been gaining more popularity with a wider group over the years.

5.Ice fishing

While you may have tried your hand at ice fishing, especially in Scandinavia where it’s a popular pastime, this comes with a little more of a challenge. Head to Greenland and you could find yourself competing in the Greenland Shark Challenge. As the biggest fish in Greenland, sharks can grow up to 15 feet, live for hundreds of years and weigh a whopping 2,000 pounds!
Two men ice fishing on a frozen lakeFancy trying your luck at reeling in one of these creatures from the deep? Uummannaq, a small town in Greenland is where you’ll need to find yourself if you plan on getting one of these fish on the end of your rod. Tough for even the most experienced ice fishers, this outdoor activity might not be as calming as a usual ice fishing session.
 

6.Snow tubing

This one is a whole lot of fun for the entire family! Not entirely dissimilar to sledding, snow tubing sees people fly down the snowy slopes in large inflatable rings. Gravity propels riders down a hill with many heading straight back to the top to complete the process all over again. The bases of the tubes are supported by a hard base to protect riders, but with little friction, riders can pick up a high speed.
A man in the air coming off a snow ramp on an inflatable tube at the bottom of a slopeA variation of the sport is more similar to its water-based cousin, where a tube is towed behind a snowmobile. Due to the size and shape of the tubes, riders do have less control than when simply sledding, which is why most courses have barriers along the sides to protect riders from obstacles.

7.Human curling

Yes, this is just what the name suggests – humans sliding across the ice in a unique take on the Olympic sport. Trading the usual stones used in curling for human-sized alternatives atop inflatable tubes, competitors run across the ice and launch themselves onto the tube. How do you win the game? Reach the middle of the bullseye and the prize is yours!
 
Despite sounding like an entirely odd take on a well-established winter sport that becomes a bit of an obsession for a few weeks during the Winter Olympics, it’s a whole lot of fun. Even Scottish Olympic curler, Eve Muirhead, has given it a go.
 

8.Yukigassen

We’ll forgive you for having absolutely no idea about what this winter sport might entail. A few words that might evoke some brilliant images in your mind; world’s most epic snowball fight. Yes, Yukigassen is a big old snowball fight, where teams of seven compete with each other. This is one of the newer sports on the list having only launched in 1988 and it’s certainly not the most peculiar of the lot, but it definitely sounds like a whole lot of fun.
A man in winter clothes throwing a snowballHow to play? Well, the sport has a federation with rules, so this is a little more formal than the old family favourite. Players are eliminated when they’re hit with a snowball (or similar) and a team can win by capturing the other team’s flag. The game has grown so much in popularity there are now tournaments held in countries across the globe including Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Canada, the USA. Even Australia joined in 2019.

9.Snow kayaking

What to do when winter hits and rivers freeze over? Snow kayaking of course! In much the same way that kayakers manoeuvre their way through streams and rapids, these daredevils speed their way down snowy slopes. Paddles are still used to guide the kayak and the boats are waxed to reduce friction. Participants can reach speeds of up to 60kph.
 

10.Snow surfing

Continuing with the water theme is snow surfing. Why not trade in your swell for slopes and tear up some new territory? Somewhat similar to windsurfing and an alternative to snowboarding, snow surfing originated in Hokkaido, Japan. However, unlike some winter sports, snow surfing doesn't leave you limited to making your way downhill exclusively. Surf across frozen lakes, open snow-covered fields and even surf the mountains.
 
Innovative board shapes are driving the sport, which also includes elements of snowboarding, skateboarding and even sandboarding in addition to surfing. When riders reach high speeds they can make their way uphill, defying gravity and providing plenty of opportunity for freestyle tricks, with some of the more popular moves known as the ‘Duck Jibe’, ‘Power Jibe’ and ‘Heli Tack’.

11.Glacier hiking

Glacier hiking is no walk in the park, requiring a plethora of specialist equipment to traverse the sometimes precarious terrain. If you plan on tackling this one you’ll need to supercharge your gear with crampons, ropes, helmets, and even ice picks or axes. Beginning to sound a little intense? You’ll quickly find your feet once you join a professional glacier guide and begin exploring.
Three people in winter clothing hiking across a glacierDespite the unfamiliar equipment glacier hiking requires, the experience can be quite relaxing or peaceful compared to the other winter activities on this list. Great for those who can’t hit the regular alpine trails during the winter due to snow and ice, glacier hiking will provide a new challenge for even the most experienced hikers.
 

12.Airboarding

Think this one sounds so out there that it’s conjuring images of something akin to an air guitar competition? Luckily, this sport does come with a little more than an imaginary instrument. If you can picture someone attempting to bodyboard on a lilo down a ski slope then you’d be pretty much spot on.

Airboarding sees riders fling themselves full speed downhill riding an inflatable sled while laying on their stomachs. Those brave enough to try this use their body weight to shift direction and almost ‘fly’ across the snow.

13.Ice karting

While most of us try our best to avoid icy situations on the road, ice karting is the exact opposite. Designed to literally take drivers for a spin, ice karting sees drivers test their skills on the frozen track, sure to evoke an adrenaline rush. So what are you waiting for? Time to put those tyres to the ice!

14.Bandy

A first glance this winter sport might just seem like a variation of ice hockey. But look a little closer and you’ll quickly see an entirely new hybrid evolved from a unique blend of football, American football and hockey.

Players use sticks to direct a ball around the field with the objective being to score in the other team’s goal. It originated right here in the UK, in Cambridge, in the early nineteenth century. The sport has also recently enjoyed a resurgence thanks to a little help from the royals.

15.Ice yachting

A person ice yachting on a frozen lake with other people ice skatingFor those who have mastered the art of yachting on water, the frozen kind seems like the next logical step, right? Any old boat won’t cut it though for this long-lived sport that has its origins in the cargo transportation of the seventeenth century but converting your yacht so it’s ready for the ice need not be expensive.

Conversions can cost less than £1,000 with most of the work able to be completed DIY-style. Most importantly, you’ll need to attach steel runners to the hull of the boat so it can glide across the ice. The catch? There’s no guarantee of when you will be able to sail. Lack of wind, poor ice conditions and snow all limit the time you can spend on the slippery stuff.

Unusual sports needs winter sports insurance

As weird and wonderful as these unusual winter sports sound, some are a little riskier than others. That’s why you need specialised winter sports insurance. Enjoying your winter breaks shouldn’t mean avoiding adrenaline-pumping activities or enjoying fun and games with your friends in the snow.
 
That’s why Insurance Choice offers dedicated policies to make sure you’re covered every time you hit the slopes or head out on the ice. From medical cover and search & rescue to cancellation and delays, we have you sorted so you can rest easy knowing you can fully enjoy your winter sports adventure.
 
Get in touch with Insurance Choice to get a quote for winter sports insurance today to ensure you’re covered for your next trip.