5 strangest winter sports

With Christmas and New Year’s in the rearview mirror, tis still the season for some cold hard winter fun. With frost in the air and snow falling from the sky, there are plenty of ways to show off your athletic prowess. Pardon the pun, but here are some of the coolest winter sports around:

1. Speed Skating Roller Derby.

Sound a little dangerous? It is. Here’s how this mayhem works: any number of skaters race around a track at full speed while tackling, pushing, and grappling for position. Really, anything goes as each skater tries to get the others out of the way. Of course, the first one to finish is the victor.

2. Skeleton.

This ominous sounding sport was introduced at the Olympics in 1948. How’s it work? Riders sled down a hill on a small hunk of metal after being pushed by two teammates called runners. Oh yeah, the riders careen down the hill headfirst, at breakneck speeds of 90 miles per hour. Don’t try it at home.

3. Shovel Racing.

Hands down, the most terrible part of winter is that you have to shovel out your driveway far too often. So instead of cursing out your snow shovel, try using it for sport. When competing, participants race down a slope at high speeds using only their shovel. Get the picture? Shovel racing was featured in the Winter X Games during the late 1990s but was later cancelled because of safety hazards, which, of course, was not a surprise.

4. Snowball fighting.

Yes, we’ve all been in a snowball fight or two, and we’ve all taken snowballs to the face probably one time too many. But in places like Japan and Australia, it’s an actual sport. That’s right, for 3 minutes teams plow through 90 snowball as they engage in a match that’s kind of like capture-the-flag. If you’re on the winning team, that means you’ve either captured the other team’s flag or that you’ve hit them with all your snowballs.

5. Speed Flying.

This sport isn’t just strange—it’s insane. Check it out: speed flyers combine skiing and skydiving by dropping out of a helicopter onto a mountain. From the top of the mountain, the flyer starts their plummeting descent, except they also have a parachute attached to their back. That way, if there’s a tree in the way, they can just, you know, fly over it.

Alternatively, you could just go swimming. Outdoors. In a frozen over pool. For sport.

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