A Definitive List of the Most Extreme Winter Sports

A Definitive List of the Most Extreme Winter Sports

As the summer fades into fall and fall chills into winter, many people start to embrace the colder weather activities. For those who enjoy winter sports, there are a lot of different options to choose from, with ten of the most popular winter sports including ice hockey, skiing, figure skating, and snowboarding. 

All of the winter sports that we currently partake in require a high level of practice and skill, not to mention a high level of regard for one’s safety. Sports like snowboarding and skiing often mix speed and skill with extremes heights. Hockey and skating require a strong sense of balance before one can really perfect the smooth moves and tricky jumps. There is no denying that the most popular winter sports require courage and confidence, but how much more extreme could they get?

Surprisingly, there are some winter sports that not everyone is familiar with, and these activities are taking the winter season to a new high of sports extremes. If you’re looking for some new activities to tackle this winter, consider this list of the most extreme winter sports to get a serious new rush of power, speed, and exhilaration.

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If you enjoy partaking in sailing, snowboarding, or kite surfing, then the extreme winter sport of snowkiting might be the perfect activity for you to try. This winter sport requires you to locate a firm, open area on snow or ice, and individuals often use their kites to travel at very high speeds with lots of directional changes.

Snow-Kiting-QuoteTo perform this sport, snowkiters are strapped into a snowboard or skis and use a kite to travel long distances and perform tricks. This kind of sport is ideal on a windy day so that maneuvering is easier, similar to kite surfing on the water. The good thing about this activity is that there is very little that is required, including the necessary terrain, so snowkiters can enjoy riding on flat lands, bumps, up and down hills as well.

There are a lot of athletes who have adopted this extreme winter sport, and as the skills have gotten harder and the speeds have gotten faster, new kite materials and designs have been introduced to perfect the sport. These days you’ll see snowkite races taking place all over the world, with the sport quickly becoming popular in common snowboarding hotspots such as Canada, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, and the United States.

If you’re thinking about taking up the sport, it’s strongly suggested that you find out where to get snowkiting lessons before you head out on your own.

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Snow Kayaking

During a long, chilly winter you might be longing for the warmer weather and thrilling water sports. However, if you can’t get your fix of summer sports early enough, you might consider snow kayaking or snow boating to fill the void.

Snow Kayaking

Snow kayaking requires individuals to carry their kayaks up large snow hills, only to enjoy the rush of speed as they fly down the mountain. While it’s a little trickier to maneuver a kayak in snow than in water, individuals can use their paddles to stay on track and change direction.

When you’re ready to take things to the next level, try waxing the bottom of the kayak for even more speed and power. Not surprisingly this sport isn’t welcomed at regulated ski hills and resorts, but all you need to find is a solid hill and some powder to enjoy a few runs until the weather gets warm again.  

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Ice Climbing

Avid rock climbers will certainly love the challenge of ice climbing, which requires individuals to climb inclined ice formations. There is a lot of strength and agility that goes into a successful climb, and those who are new to the sport will certainly want to have a few guided lessons to get started on the right foot

This extreme winter sport requires varied types of equipment depending on the texture of the ice and the slope. For climbs that have a variety of flat and sloped surfaces, a quality mountaineering boot should suffice. However, for those who are trying to reach the summit of a mountain or lead a group, there is a lot more that goes into the necessary equipment and climbing systems.

Ice climbing in AlaskaStrong ankle support for ice climbing is definitely necessary for a vertical ice climb, as well as a variety of carabiners, ropes, ice axes, and other items. This extreme sport can take climbers to incredible heights and be extremely rewarding, but there are also many safety precautions that need to be taken to avoid danger and serious injury.

For those who are planning to ice climb this winter season, you’ll want to be prepared both mentally and physically. Getting into the gym a few times a week prior to ice climbing can help the body to adjust to more intense performance, and increasing cardio will also help to improve athleticism while you’re on the mountain. Consider some exercises for ice climbing to increase your preparedness.

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Ski Biking

Avid bikers who are missing the days of riding their favorite trails might want to give ski biking a try during the colder seasons. This extreme winter sport could be a nod to the miniature GT’s that kids used to ride down their favorite toboggan hills, only with a lot more height and speed.

For ski biking, you’ll require a machine that’s a combination of skis and a bike frame, where the skis replace the wheels and the handle bars are still used for steering. This sport is one of the easier sports to try on the list, considering it doesn’t require any certifications and you can perform it on almost any hill with some good powder.

What you might have trouble with is locating a bike for skiing; some choose to simply build their own versions for testing, but in locations with impressive winters there are lots of ski bike stores with a variety of models and styles to choose from.

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Ice Yachting

Enjoy the crisp winds and thick, icy floor with a day out on the water trying ice yachting. This extreme winter sport is a colder version of regular yachting, only the boat is set on top of sharp blades that help you to plow through the icy terrain.

While the sport is common in Poland, Norway, Austria, Sweden, and Germany, ice yachting has seen its highest amount of development in Canada and the United States. The boats themselves are referred to as ice boats or ice yachts, and are generally built more for safety than for speed.

With the right winds and the proper sailing technique, ice yachts can reach speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. For those who are seeking thrills in a more controlled environment, ice yachting is a great option; the build of the boat makes it fairly buoyant, ensuring that even on thin ice the boat will float if necessary.

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Ice Diving

Ice Diving QuoteIce diving is a particularly extreme winter sport, based on the high level of skill and experience that is required to perform it safely. Ice diving takes place under the frozen ice in lakes and oceans, and there is generally only one entry and exit point in the ice.

To increase the level of safety, divers are usually tethered to an individual known as a “line tender” who is above ground, in order to be able to find their way back or be pulled out for safety. These individuals help to add or remove slack from the tethered line in order to make the swim easier for the diver. Both rope signals and voice communications should be agreed upon ahead of time so the diver and tender both know what’s going on above and beneath the surface.  

Some of the potential dangers for ice divers include becoming lost underwater, equipment failure, and hypothermia. Those above ground can also suffer from hypothermia or falling through the ice.

Because of the various potential hazards, divers are required to obtain significant certification to ice dive in the winter. Divers need to know about the proper procedures with diving, and are required to meet a specific amount of diving hours ahead of time to become certified. Some of the important things to know will include how to prep before and after a dive, what kind of gear is needed, how to use weights, and oxygen tanks and more. 

Obtaining your ice diving certification is not an easy feat, however, the rewards of exploring the world underneath a frozen lake or ocean are certainly worth the time and effort. If you’re thinking about becoming an ice diver, be sure to talk to a local instructor about the potential options and required certification so you can enjoy this sport safely.

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Snocross Biker

Snocross is essentially the winter version of motocross, only athletes are riding snowmobiles as opposed to motorcycles. The speeds are just as fast and the jumps are just as high, which make this sport a definitive extreme winter sport.

Similar to motocross, competitors ride around on a man-made track that includes sharp turns, high jumps, bumpy valleys, and obstacles in hopes of crossing the finish line first. This sport has become incredibly popular over the last decade, gaining more and more attention as the skills and expertise continue to increase.

Riders can travel up to 60 miles per hour, and jumps can reach as high as 30 feet for incredible hang-time while the snowmobiles are airborne. Because of the heights, speeds, and the sheer size of the snowmobiles, injuries can be severe when they do occur. All athletes are required to wear protective snocross gear including a helmet, a certified racing suit, gloves, goggles, leather boots, shin guards, elbow pads, neck braces, knee guards, and upper body protection.

While the list may seem long, this extreme winter sport has the potential to be very dangerous and athletes should take the equipment requirements seriously.

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Speed Riding

Speed riding is an extreme winter sport that caters to those thrill seekers who love heights and have a need for speed. Speed riding requires individuals to take off from a high point either at the top of a mountain or at a high altitude, using a fast fabric wing to ride the wind down the mountain.

With speed riding, individuals use the fabric wing for flight, while a pair of skis are strapped to their feet to glide down the mountain during landings. Speed flying is the other version of this extreme sport; however, it does not require skis because the take-off is performed on foot.

Speed riding is a combination of sports, including paragliding, skiing, and parachuting. Similar to paragliding, speed riding requires that the wing is already inflated by wind and ready for launch; however, it differs from paragliding in that it is a fast, thrilling ride down the mountain as opposed to a slow, relaxed descent.

Some of the most experienced speed riders have taken their riding descents to new heights at the top of mountains such as the Alps, the Andes, and Aconcagua. Individuals can seek flying sites all over the world for their speed riding needs, with locations in more than 20 different countries and more than 100 qualified instructors.

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Even the most popular winter sports are fairly extreme. Heights, speeds, obstacles, and weather conditions all play a part in some of the most popular winter sports, which often make performance very difficult. However, this definitive list of the most extreme winter sports encourages athletes to take things to the next level, combating chilly waters, harsh winds, and dangerous terrains that make for some very rewarding views and accomplishments.

If you’re considering trying an extreme winter sport this season, be sure to invest in some one-on-one or small group lessons ahead of time. Many of these sports are difficult even for the most experienced individuals, and it’s important that you’re properly prepared mentally and physically and that you’re outfitted with the proper equipment.

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