Extreme Winter Sports

Extreme Winter Sports

When comfortably-warm summer months draw to a close and autumn's colourful grip on nature loosens, it is winter that comes in to take the three-month long shift. In Britain this almost invariably means two months and twenty nine days of rain with perhaps a few days here and there reserved for crisp, sunny-but-cold weathers and the odd hint of snow. You can't avoid the winter however, so many people simply try to make it as fun as possible. How? Winter sports, and extreme ones at that. There's something about the biting cold that motivates some to go out and use the pure white scenery as their playground, so here's a few of the most popular extreme/ish winter sports you may wish to check out.

Backcountry/Off-Piste Skiing

In contrast to the relative safety of regular skiing down well-groomed and maintained terrain, off-piste/backcountry skiing is relatively dangerous and unpatrolled areas of ski resorts.

Skiing in this sort of unknown terrain is extremely dangerous even for professionals. The risk of unpredictable factors such as avalanche, weather changes, unknown terrain, trees, and sudden cliff-faces must all be taken into consideration. In spite of the dangers however, many organisations exist dedicated to the practice of skiing/snowboarding in uncharted territory such as Backcountry Magazine. It seems that the aggressive nature of such type of skiing aptly demonstrated in this game is appealing to many thrill seekers all over the world.

Ski Jumping

Ski Jumping

Having recently come to prominence in the Sochi Winter Olympics as well as the terrible UK television show The Jump, Ski Jumping sees contestants building up momentum using a large slope with a ramp on the end; they are judged on the length and style of their jump.

Snowboarding

This is perhaps one of the most popular and well-known winter sports besides skiing, and it carries more style points along with it as well. Snowboarders are attached to a single board via their feet and must descend a slope with various obstacles/changes in terrain. This kind of snowboarding is akin to regular skiing only with slightly different apparatus

You will also see snowboarding taking place on dedicated ramps and half-pipes where the intention is to gain as much height as possible in order to perform different tricks, many of which have a crossover with and/or similarity to some moves seen in skateboarding. Some would say that this kind of snowboarding is total madness and isn't designed for the faint hearted!

The danger of snowboarding is quite obvious, with the risk of falling being almost certain and also fairly high chances of bruises and occasionally broken bones, particularly for beginners. Still, this doesn't prevent people from flocking to winter sports festivals like Snowbombing in Austria or internationally-held festivals such as Rock the Pistes

Skeleton (One-Man Bobsled)

This winter Olympic event has featured prominently in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games 2014 and involves a single competitor travelling down a frozen track whilst lying face-down on a small one-man sled. This is classed as a winter slide sport and is extremely dangerous since due to the high speeds and relative lack of protection afforded to the competitor in comparison to the 4-man bobsleigh event.

Competitors are required to wear protective equipment such as helmets with optional pads for the elbows and shoulder pads. Still, the equipment is limited and the danger of collision if the rider loses concentration even momentarily is very real.

Bobsleigh

Bobsleigh

This is a sport that requires a team of either two or four competitors to enter and guide a bobsleigh around an icy track that contains many turns, twists, and banks. The sled is powered entirely by gravity and is given its initial momentum by the two or four-man team initiating a push-based start after which the men climb into the sleigh as quickly and efficiently as possible. Each of the runs are timed and a final score from multiple runs is calculated.

The dangers of this sport are obvious due to the nature of the cold, icy surface and the high speeds reached on the sloped track. The safety issue is less worrisome than in Skeleton however since the men are inside a vessel that is substantially safer and offers more protection, though helmets and other safety gear must be worn.

Speed Skating

This is another event that features heavily in the winter Olympics. The sport usually involves multiple skaters travelling over a flat surface on a track that is usually 400m in length. The skaters reach extremely high speeds and must put maximum effort into manoeuvring, particularly around the bends where the highest risk of falling and failure lies.

Helmets are obviously worn as well as skin-tight suites that ensure each racer is as aerodynamic as possible. The emphasis here is on speed and efficiency of movement in order to beat the competitors.