Wacky and Wild Winter Sports
What is ice sailing, shovel racing and the Polar Bear swim? Find out by taking a look at this list of the world's wildest and wackiest winter sports.
Ice sailing began over 300 years ago in Holland when it was used as a way of transporting stuff across frozen lakes in the winter. Ice sailing is now done all around the world and is most popular in Northern Europe and Russia. Sail boats are mounted on large skates and racers reach speeds of 100 miles (160 km) per hour while traveling across lakes and rivers.
How about jumping on a bike with skis rather than wheels? Riders have a seat and handlebars and use short foot-skis instead of pedals. You stop in the same way as you do when you're skiing, by leaning the bike sideways and digging the ski edges into the snow.
It's a wild combination of skydiving and slalom skiing that shouldn't be tried by anyone who's not a professional stunt master. Blade runners jump out of a plane 3,000 feet above a downhill ski run. They release their parachute and try to make their way through a course of "blades" which are large banners about 10 feet tall. Blade runners must pass a portion of their bodies below the top of each gate - without touching the ground.
This sport was started by ski lift operators in the 1970s who were looking for a quick way to get down the hill once the lifts closed. Shovel races now take place at several ski hills around North America. Racers fly down hills on specially modifed shovels that carry them at speeds reaching 60 miles (96 km) per hour.
Polar Bear Swim
It's fun to go for a dip in the ocean in the winter if you live in Hawaii or the Bahamas. If you live in a cold weather climate, and it's freezing outside, swimming in the winter is just weird. That doesn't stop thousands of people from jumping in freezing cold lakes or oceans in the middle of winter to go for a Polar Bear Swim each year. The most popular time for a polar bear swim in New Year's Day. Most polar bear swimmers only spend a few seconds in the water before they head for warmth. There's a reason why polar bears have a thick coat of fur.