Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are wildly popular across the globe. Athletes from both sports compete every four years at the Winter Olympics, while millions of their fellow athletes take to the slopes each winter for recreational purposes. While skiing and snowboarding may dominate the outdoor winter sports landscape, there are plenty of off-the-radar outdoor sports that are growing in popularity among people looking for something a little different.
Snowkiting Much like snowboarding appeals to surfers and skateboarders, snowkiting has found a fan base among people who enjoy kiteboarding when the weather is warm. Snowkiters use kite power to glide across the snow or ice. Foil kites once dominated the snowkiting landscape, but many snowkiters now prefer inflatable kites. Snowkiting can be very dangerous, so it’s important that men and women interested in snowkiting learn the proper techniques, which can be difficult to master.
Fat biking Though its name might leave much to be desired, fat biking is growing in popularity among athletes who love riding bikes but have traditionally had to put their bikes in the garage once the temperatures dip. Fat bikes are similar to traditional bicycles, but they come with oversized tires and wider rims that make it possible for the bikes to handle unstable terrain, including terrain covered in snow. Mountain biking enthusiasts may favor fat biking, as the sport allows them to traverse snow-covered trails their mountain bikes are typically unable to traverse.
Ice boating For those who simply love to be out on the water, ice boating is a great way to fulfill your winter fix for sailing. Ice boats are similar to sailboats, but they are typically fitted with runners, also called skates, or skis and designed to run over frozen waters instead of through water. Ice boats tend to sail across ice-covered surfaces at high speeds, and that can make already cold conditions even colder for ice boat sailors. But many ice boat sailors find the sport is even more fun than traditional sailing.
Skijoring Skijoring may be a less accessible winter sport, as it involves people on skis being pulled by a dog, horse or vehicle. The sport originated centuries ago in Scandinavia as a way for military members to speed up the process of sharing messages. Skijoring with dogs typically involves men or women being pulled by one to three dogs, each of which is wearing a sled dog harness (men and women wear skijoring harnesses). Dogs are not controlled by reins, but rather must be motivated to keep moving by their own desire to run. A single horse is typically enough for equestrian skijoring, and horses are typically guided by a rider. Small motorized vehicles, such as snowmobiles, are typically used in motorized skijoring. Athletes need not sequester themselves indoors when temperatures dip below freezing. In fact, there are several lesser known outdoor sports athletes can enjoy this winter.