With the 2022 Winter Olympics, the world’s attention is turning to winter sports. But these pursuits aren’t just for the elite athletes who are competing in Beijing. In fact, winter sports are a great way for anyone to get fit, have fun, and make friends while enjoying the outdoors.
Here are five of our favorite sports that you’ll see in the Games… and how you can give them a go.
A bobsled or bobsleigh is a light metal sleigh powered purely by gravity, with steel runners along the bottom. Each sleigh carries two or four riders, who make timed runs down narrow icy tracks. Whichever team completes the run in the fastest time wins.
At an elite level, bobsledding can be extremely dangerous. Sleds move at up to 80mph and crashes can cause serious injuries. But you can give this exhilarating sport a go at a dedicated winter sports center in a much safer environment.
If you’ve ever played bowls or boules, then you might enjoy their icy cousin: curling. In curling, players slide stones across the ice towards a marked target, called a “house”. Teams are awarded points based on how close their stones land to the center of the house. Two players, called “sweepers”, sweep the ice in front of a stone to assist its path.
Curling might not look as physically demanding (or terrifying) as many of the other sports featured in the Winter Games, but don’t be fooled—it’s a game of skill, strategy, and teamwork.
There are curling clubs throughout the US, most of which are located in the northeast. Check out Curling USA’s website to find a club near you. Many clubs will offer beginner lessons or “have a go” sessions.
Ice hockey is a high-contact team sport played on ice skates in a marked skating rink. Players use hockey sticks to try to shoot a rubber disk, called a “puck”, into the opposite team’s goal. Most hockey teams consist of six players, including the goalie.
Ice hockey is particularly popular in Canada, where it is considered the national winter sport. It’s also popular in the US and some parts of Europe, particularly the Nordic countries of Sweden and Finland.
Ice hockey is fast-paced and exciting to both play and watch. It can also be dangerous, so players wear protective gear including shin guards and helmets. We also recommend giving your ankles and feet a little extra protection, as skating can be tough on these delicate areas.
USA Hockey has a “Try Hockey for Free” day coming up on March 5th, 2022. Visit the website to find a club near you and get involved. The organization also has a page you can use year-round to find out where you can play hockey in your area.
In cross-country skiing, skiers use their own power to move over the snow. Unlike its downhill counterpart, cross-country skiing can include terrain that is flat or even uphill. Cross-country skiing is particularly popular in Scandinavia as well as in Canada, the US, Russia, and Germany.
Experts have called cross-country skiing “the best known cardiovascular exercise”. Since you’re powering yourself forward rather than relying on gravity, it’s a serious workout. It tones your muscles, improves kinesthetic awareness, and helps your balance. Cross-country skiing is also great fun and an excellent way to enjoy seeing beautiful landscapes from a different vantage point.
There are cross-country skiing resorts throughout the US. You don’t need any experience to give it a go, and you can often rent equipment rather than buying your own. Many resorts will also offer beginner lessons or group excursions led by an experienced skier. It can be extremely cold, so layer up. Our circulation gloves can help keep your hands warm in cold weather.
Related to sports like surfing and skateboarding, snowboarding involves sliding down a snowy slope with a snowboard strapped to your feet. It’s harder than it looks, and many experts believe that snowboarding is more difficult to master than skiing.
Snowboarding is a full-body workout that burns calories, builds and strengthens your core and lower body muscles, and gets your heart and lungs working. It can also be fast and exciting, especially as you build your confidence and start to learn more interesting moves.
It’s best to try snowboarding with an experienced instructor first, as it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. The World Snowboard Guide offers a list of the best snowboarding locations in the USA, most of which offer group lessons or private instruction for beginners.
Have we inspired you? Let us know what winter sports you’ll be trying!