A Beginner’s Guide to Winter Sports

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When we think of winter sports, many of us think of skiing and ice skating. However, you can enjoy plenty of other sports during the colder months, and many of them are super exciting! Here is a beginner’s guide to winter sports.

Skiing

Skiing is probably one of the most well-known and popular winter sports. There are three categories of skiing – Nordic, alpine and extreme.

Nordic skiing originated in the geographic area of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. It uses different skis to those of the well-known downhill skiing and uses a ski that is attached to the toe but not the heel of the skier. Having the heel loose makes it easier to move over flat or hilly ground.

Alpine Skiing is the type most people envision when they think of skiing. This type of skiing is practiced on a downhill course – usually over snow-capped mountains. The skis attach to the sportsperson’s toes and heels.

As the name suggests, Extreme skiing is the most dangerous avenue of the sport as it involves skiing down mountainous terrain with slopes of between 45 and 60+ degrees.

Any type of skiing can be risky, and you should wear the appropriate clothing to protect you from weather extremes and injury. If you want to try the sport, you should invest in some quality safety glasses such as Palermo safety glasses, a pair of salopettes, a ski jacket, and thermal undergarments.

Ice Fishing

If you are keen on fishing during the warmer months and you are a regular in fly fishing trips, why not try doing it during the winter! Ice fishing involves catching fish through holes in a frozen body of water using hooks and lines or fishing spears. Most ice anglers will catch fish species such as crappie, perch, bluegill, and sunfish. The equipment needed to catch these species is relatively inexpensive for those wanting to dip their toe in the water.

Like many winter sports, ice fishing is not without its dangers. Ice fishing should only be done on areas of ice that are clear and blue, as opposed to grey ice or some areas of white ice as blue ice is the thickest, and you won’t be at risk of falling through it. If you fall into frozen water, you are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, or injury. You should never go ice fishing alone and always wear the appropriate safety apparel

Dog Sled Racing

Dog sled racing is when teams of dogs pull sleds across an icy or snowy terrain and race one another. It is mainly performed in arctic areas of the USA, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and some European countries. The races can cover distances from 4 to 1000 miles. The distance traveled and the number of dogs used to pull the sled are used to categorize the races, and there never usually more than 22 dogs used to draw a single sled.

The dogs in a sled team have different roles such as Lead, Point, Swing, and Wheel – the Lead dog being the most important. The most common breeds of dog used in dog sledding are Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes.

Ski Biking

Ski biking is pretty self-explanatory – it’s skiing on a bike. Instead of wheels, the bike frame has two skis attached so it can glide downhill over snow. Like dry terrain bicycles, you can steer around obstacles using the handlebars. It is a relatively new sport, and ski biking equipment has only started being mass-produced in the last ten years.

Ice Climbing

Climbing up frozen waterfalls, cliff faces, rock slabs, glaciers, and ice falls can be very dangerous. It should only be attempted after rigorous training and using all of the correct safety equipment and clothing. Indoor ice climbing walls have become very popular and offer a realistic experience but in a safer environment. Outdoors, ice climbers are exposed to extreme weather conditions, avalanches, and the risk of falling down a crevasse.

It is essential that you climb with a partner or a group of people to ensure the safety and you and other climbers. One person must stay at the bottom of the climbing surface and act as the ‘anchor’ while the other person climbs. Before you ice climb, you must ensure you have good quality climbing equipment such as eye protection, a harness, insulated boots, gloves, helmet and clothes, ropes, carabiners, axes, crampons, ice screws, and quickdraws.

If you are interested in trying ice climbing, some of the best teaching schools and ice mountains are in Italy, Canada, Norway, and Japan.