The impending Sochi Winter Olympic Games brings with it some thrilling sports, such as ski jumping, luge and speed skating - and if that really gets your juices flowing, why not try something new in 2014? Go on, we dare you…
Bobsleigh – All that stands between you and the bottom of the devilishly twisting track is gravity! Climb aboard your bobsled, which were first invented in St Moritz in Switzerland, and experience the thrill of the narrow adrenaline fuelled journey. The best place to sample both bobsleigh and taxi-bob is at Lillehammer in Norway, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1994 and will also host the Winter Youth Olympics in 2016.
Skijoring – If skiing with poles is just too passé for you, then why not try skijoring? Originally demonstrated in the 1928 winter Olympics, it’s one of the trendiest winter sports on the block right now. Participants are pulled along by a horse or pack of dogs, whilst on skis. Beginners can opt for a cute-looking pony instead – and it’s the perfect winter sport to earn bragging rights. Samoens resort in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps offers the snowy experience, as does the trio of Trentino, Alto Adige and Bellunese in Italy. If you’d prefer to be a spectator, check out the annual skijoring festival held in Karelia in Russia, which see plucky skiers pulled along a 270 mile track by a pack of dogs.
Figure Skating – This flamboyant sister of ice skating requires perfect balance, spot-on timing and guts. Place your faith in two narrow blades and get ready to twist, turn and jump across the icy surface. First introduced in the summer Olympics of 1908, figure skating will also make an appearance at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Sequinned costumes are optional!
Ice Swimming – OK so ice swimming is not exactly a ‘sport’ as such, but it does require a great deal of grit and determination. As the name suggests, participants literally plunge their near-naked bodies into an ice crusted lake or river. For the ultimate in team sports, join an ice-swimming club so you can encourage each other. Popular spots include the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park and the freezing Songhua River in Harbin, north China. The Belgians have raced the icy Meuse River annually in each February since 1963 and the specialist winter swimming club, the Lakeview Polar Bear Club in the USA hold their Celebration of Shrinkage each year in late January!
Snowcross – This is snowmobiling with attitude- calling all extreme winter sports fanatics! Riders race along a nail-biting trail that twists and turns, forcing riders to jump, duck and avoid obstacles – all at speed of up to 60mph! There are professional snowcross associations in both the USA and Canada that organise events all though the winter so you can get a taste of the adventure.
Ice Cross Downhill– This winter sport is essentially downhill skating on a steep track packed with heart-pumpingly high jumps and death-defyingly nervy turns. And the most famous annual ice-cross downhill event is the extreme ‘Crashed Ice’ event, which is held at various locations across the world. Athletes can register to compete in 2014’s thrilling events; Helsinki (30 January to 1 February), Saint Paul in Minnesota, USA (20 to 22 February), Moscow (6 to March) and Quebec City (20 to 22 March).