Extreme Winter Sports

Attention adrenaline junkies! We've got a few recommendations for intense, but fun activities that you should add to your must-do list this winter, including snow kayaking and ice cross downhill.

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Red Bull Media House

Photo By: Red Bull Media House

Photo By: Getty Images

Ice Climbing

Travel to Switzerland’s cold tundra to go ice climbing -- if rock climbing isn’t extreme enough for you. Ascend up ice formations like frozen waterfalls, ice slabs or rocks covered with frozen water flow or ice. This adrenaline-driven winter activity is recognized as a competitive sport. The International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation organizes both the Ice Climbing World Cup and International Championships every year.

Snowcross

It’s snowmobiling with an extra kick! In snocross, riders race at a speed of up to 60 mph on a track that usually consists of tight turns, banked corners, steep jumps and obstacles. From November through March, AMSOIL Championship Snocross events are held all over the US, including in Duluth, MN; Traverse City, MI; Deadwood, SD; and Lake Geneva, WI.

Snow Polo

St. Moritz is just one place sports fans can visit to see snow polo players in action. This variant of polo is played on compacted snow, on flat ground or on a frozen lake. Each team usually consists of 3 players who battle it out by hitting a light, bright-colored plastic ball into a goal. Save the date Aspen, CO, usually hosts the USPA World Snow Polo Championship in Marloth Park on the third weekend in December.

Skijoring

The first competitive skijoring races were held in Scandinavia as an offshoot of the older sport of pulka. For those unfamiliar with this winter sport, skijoring involves a horse, dog(s) or a motor vehicle pulling a skier. Races are held all around the world where there is snow in the winter. The longest race is held in Kalevala, Karelia, Russia. Skiers pulled by dogs must race 270 bone-chilling miles to cross the finish line.

Snow Scooting

Go snow scooting! Cut your snowboard in half, screw on some handlebars and hop onboard. The unconventional sport is popular in Europe, but has yet to catch on in the US. We recommend traveling to Tignes, a ski resort in southeastern France, to experience snow scooting in the Alps.

Ice Swimming

Swimming in a body of water with a frozen crust of ice is normal practice in several countries, including the UK, Finland, Belgium, Russia and China. In the US and Canada, members of polar bear clubs take the plunge and go swimming in the winter. Take the plunge yourself and go swimming in the winter or ice swimming. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club (Coney Island, NY) is the oldest ice-swimming club in the US.

Heli-Skiing

Instead of hopping on a ski lift, jump from a helicopter to start your ski run downhill. These off-trail runs sometimes consist of high alpine glaciers, wooded areas and steep slopes. Skiers, looking for an adrenaline-rush adventure, should head to heli-skiing destinations like Alaska, Iceland, Nepal, Chile, Russia and New Zealand.

Ice Yachting

Go sailing in an iceboat -- also known as an ice yacht. Ice yachting is very popular in the Netherlands and in the Gulf of Finland; Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka, Wisconsin’s Lake Pepin, Maine’s Bar Harbor Lake are a few hot US destinations for this unique sport.

Ice Cross Downhill

The first inaugural race for ice cross downhill was on Jan. 20, 2000, in Stockholm. Wearing skates, hockey players have a head-to-head battle down an ice track packed with gap jumps, ice steps, high vertical drops and razor-sharp hairpin turns. These competitions -- Red Bull Crashed Ice -- are held in various locations like Quebec City, Canada; St. Paul, MN; Niagara Falls, Canada; and Landgraaf, Netherlands. 

Snow Kayaking

Forget about sledding down snowy hills -- hop into a kayak for an exciting twist to traditional sledding. Go snow kayaking, an extreme sport not allowed at most ski resorts. Professional competitions consist of bumps, turns and other obstacles to keep competitors’ adrenaline pumping.

Snow Kiting

Snow kiting is an outdoor winter sport where people use kite power to glide on snow or ice. This unique sport is similar to kite surfing, but snowboarding or skiing footwear is used. Snow kiting is becoming popular in places often associated with skiing and snowboarding like Sweden, France, Canada, Austria and central and northern US.

Tesoro Arctic Man Classic

More than 13,000 people converge on Paxson, AK, to witness the Tesoro Arctic Man Classic. Teams of 2 compete with the skier starting the race out at a 5,800-foot summit. They then drop 1,700 feet in less than 2 miles, where the skier meets up with his snowmobiling partner. The snowmobiler pulls the skier uphill at top speeds of up to 86 mph. On the final leg of the race, the skier separates from his partner and drops another 1,200 feet to the finish line.

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