Its official; 2014 is the year of sport! First up we have the Winter Olympics in Sochi, followed by the hotly anticipated FIFA World Cup in Brazil in June and finally Glasgow will bask in the post-London Olympics glow with the Commonwealth Games, which kicks off in July. And with such a sports dominated annual calendar, it’s a great opportunity to try your hand at some of the more unusual and extreme sports on offer around the world.
Get trendy and try skijoring
The ‘in’ crowd are ditching the ski poles and are opting for a spot of skijoring right now - basically a horse or pack of dogs pulls you along on your skis. Trendy it may be, but it’s not a new sport; it was originally demonstrated in the 1928 Winter Olympics. Beginners are more than welcome and small cute ponies are laid on for just this reason. The French Alps and various resorts throughout Italy offer the option to sample skijoring.
Try your hand at ostrich racing
Again, another tried and tested sport; in fact racing on birds for sport has been around since the ancient Egyptian period. Historians have even uncovered a statue of Egyptian Queen Arsinoe II riding an ostrich! This is not an activity for the faint hearted however; these fierce looking creatures can reach speeds of up to 43mph and their strides can measure up to 16 feet. Eek! If yon prefer to check out all the action from the sidelines, head to Chandler in Arizona which hosts their very own annual Ostrich Festival each March. And a note of caution, if you get cheap travel insurance make sure your policy specifically covers you for ostrich racing.
Snowcross is snowmobiling with attitude! Extreme winter sports fanatics will appreciate the race along a nail-biting trail that twists and turns, which forces riders to jump, duck and avoid obstacles – all at speed of up to 60mph! Both Canada and the USA are home to professional snowcross associations which organise events throughout the winter so travellers can get a taste of the adventure.
Have you tried Cheese Rolling yet?
Consider this; not everybody enjoys sport, but maybe you’ve just not found the right sport yet. Cue cheese rolling, which originated in the 15thcentury in Gloucester in the UK. Participants gather to charge down steep hills all across England each summer in pursuit of rounds of cheese. Check out the largest event in the world at Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling event in Gloucester which is held each June. And before you scoff (not literally) at cheese rolling as an extreme sport, injuries are fairly commonplace – try explaining that to your insurer! The YouTube video below captures all the tumbles – literally.
Challenge yourself with Zip-lining
Flying foxes, aka zip-lines, have really grown in popularity across the world, particularly within eco destinations. It’s a great way to get a birdseye view over the local landscape but taking your first steps can be a challenge. Start small at a local adventure center - I tried a local 110 meter big zipper a few years ago – relax, breathe and enjoy! Then when you get on your feet (or not), head to Costa Rica, the premier zip-lining and eco travel destination or sample the fastest and longest zip-line in the world at South Africa’s Sun City, which spans 1.25 miles (2km)!