Alternative snow sports you didn’t know existed

Proof that there’s a thrilling winter activity for everyone

Like snow but don’t fancy skiing or snowboarding? There are plenty of other winter sports that will get your pulse racing and your fist pumping. Here are five of the most exciting alternative snow sports for the ski-free thrill-seekers.

Snow mountain biking

The combination of bikes and snow doesn’t normally end well, but many European destinations have started adding snow mountain biking to their range of winter sports. The activity was invented in the US over 30 years ago and is now one of the country’s fastest growing snow sports, with Europe not far behind. You’ll need a specialist ‘fat bike’, which features wide, chunky wheels, as well as a destination with snow bike trails to follow. Experts say that if you can ride a regular bike then you can ride a snow bike, and once you learn to trust the bike’s grip, you can tackle the steepest climbs and descents with ease.

Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Bike hire is around 40€ a day
Equipment: A ‘fat bike’ with extra-wide wheels, and a helmet
When to try: Bikes are available all season
Ideal location: Val Thorens, France


Long seen as a sport for steely-nerved Olympians or fearless Blue Peter presenters, bobsleighing is now open to everyone willing to throw themselves down a two-kilometre undulating sheet of ice at over 80mph. Assuming you’re a beginner, experts will give you all the training and information you need to stay safe on the track, as well as an experienced pilot to get you down in one piece. And if the bobsleigh isn’t terrifying enough, you could always try the luge or the skeleton…

Difficulty: 4/5
Cost: 45€-295€pp, depending on the package
Equipment: Helmets, skinsuits and a bob ‘raft’ are all available to rent
**When to try: **Track opening times vary, but usually December-April
Ideal location: The Olympic Bobsleigh Track in La Plagne, France


Once an activity for visitors to the far north of Europe and beyond, dog sledding has gained a huge amount of popularity in ski domains in Switzerland, France and Austria. Surrounded by the beautiful landscapes of mountain ranges and snow-covered forests, you’ll be pulled along at high speed by a team of energetic Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes, the only sounds being the crunch of the snow and the panting of the dogs. You’ll be given full training in how to handle your dogs and sled, as well as the full range of commands (none of which are ‘mush’).

Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: 200€-500€, depending on the package
Equipment: Dogs and sled are provided
When to try: January-March
Ideal locations: Pragelato, Italy

Ice skating

With most cities boasting their own rink in winter, ice skating has become very popular in the UK. But nothing beats gliding around in the clean, crisp mountain air surrounded by stunning snow-covered scenery. While most winter sports resorts will boast at least one outdoor rink, there are some breathtaking natural rinks created from frozen lakes. One of the most famous is the scenic open-air rink in Tignes, France, which offers ice hockey as well as skating.

Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Most natural rinks are free
Equipment: Skates are available to rent at most locations
When to try: January-March
**Ideal location: ** Tignes, France

Other ice skating activities

There’s much more on offer at the domain’s ice rinks than simply skating around in a large circle. Many will give you the chance to try other activities such as ice hockey, speed skating, curling and ice biking, all with expert instructors on hand to make sure you have fun and stay safe. Some domain’s lakes are even starting to offer ‘ice blokarting’, a cross between windsurfing and go-karting, with ice blades instead of wheels. And when you’re exhausted after all that skating activity, there’s plenty of food and drinks stalls nearby, or even on the ice itself, to help you wind down and warm up.

Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Varies according to activity and experience
Equipment: All equipment will be available to rent
When to try: January-March
**Ideal location: ** Saint Moritz, Switzerland

And for the really adventurous…

If you’re after something even more exciting, there are some specialist sports that will give you a few tales to tell at the bar. Skijoring, which means ‘ski driving’, involves a skier being pulled along at great speed by a team of dogs or horses over a course that often includes jumps. If you really don’t like skis, you could try snow kayaking, in which you negotiate a fast slope sitting in a kayak, or snow tubing in an inflatable ring. For the truly adventurous, night sledding offers thrills and, quite likely, spills as you speed down a mountain in complete darkness, with only a headlamp and blind panic to get you to the bottom.
Good luck!

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