In winter, the weather can really get us down in the dumps. Science shows that sunlight increases Serotonin, the chemical in the brain that’s linked to you being happy, and decreases Melatonin, the one that makes you feel sleepy. If you’re battling a bad case of the winter blues, it might be time to look for a new obsession.
Winter sports are an excellent way to invigorate and excite, and the joy of supporting a new team will bring you a refreshed sense of self, help to forge new friendships not to mention give your mood a marvellous boost. But where on Earth do you find a sport in winter? Truth is, there’s a lot. And we’ll fill you in on a few of the funniest and most fulfilling winter sports to fall in love with. Guaranteed to put those winter blues on ice.
Sledding is the umbrella term for any kind of treacherous travel down an ice track on a land vehicle with a smooth underside. When you were younger, snow spattering meant two things. No school, and a chance to sled down the very tallest hill. Widely loved by everyone from families to fearless professionals, sledding comes in three main types.
Luge involves lying on your sled face up, as you hurtle down that ice-track feet first. The ice track is designed to increase speed quickly, leading the courageous sledder to career at tip-top speed to the finish line. The one who wins is the one who completes the course in the fastest time, so factors like your weight and how streamlined you can make your body come into play.
Skeleton sledding, then, involves the opposite posture. Instead of lying face-up on the sled, you lie face-down. The race also begins with a riotous running start, for you and the sled, and a death-defying jump into the run. It’s the most dangerous of the bobsled winter sports, and involves steering using just your head and shoulders. The fun side of this forward-facing feat is that you can film the flow of your Skeleton run using a head cam – so if this scary sport seems like it’s for you, head over to YouTube for an ice-eye view.
Bobsled then, is the safer option to these two. It introduces a Bobsled vehicle, usually operated down the dizzying heights by two or four people. It’s the sport championed in the film Cool Runnings, and the popularity of this pure-hearted film lead to the image of sledding many folks have today.
2. Ice Skating
Since there has been ice, people have been trying to slide on it. The winter sport ice skating began over 3,000 years ago in Finland, when skating concerned a more ski-like contraption that skated on top of the ice rather than cutting into it. Flash forward to today and there’s a reason that Dancing on Ice is one of the world’s highest-viewed television programs. Ice-skating channels raw power and strength into floaty, fabulous forms. Again, it comes in many incarnations.
Figure skates differ from competitive skates. They have spikes on the back that can slow down, start up or spin out your skating. Figure skates have two grooves, and it’s preferred that you skate on one or the other. Lower scores will be given in competitions if you skate on both!
Figure skating routines are similar to cheerleading routines, as they will require you to lift, jump, turn and throw. The more complicated your rave routine gets the more advanced your moves will be, including crowd-pleaser, the death spiral.
Many other sports have moved ice-wards in an attempt to increase how difficult they are. Ice hockey, for example, uses the ice as a propellant for the puck, and is known for being played at a fast pace, and being highly physical. Speed skating seeks to increase the speed of the race via ice, and short-track speed skating will often be referred to as Nascar On Ice due to its speed and skater velocity.
Ready. Get set. THROW! One of the joys of winter is, of course, snow; and we couldn’t leave you without letting you in on the ultimate winter sport – competitive snowball throwing. It’s Japanese, and called Yukigassen. Yukigassen will translate directly to snow battle, and is top of the list if you enjoy a bit of cold in your chaos.
Yukigassen takes place in two teams of seven players each. Your aim? To capture the enemy’s flag by speed, strength, or just knocking everyone else out. If you’re hit by a snowball you’re eliminated, and out of the game. It has to be a direct hit though; snowballs ricocheted off of an off-hand object do not tag you out. You can only use pre-rolled snowballs, if you’re caught making a snowball during the game, you’re out. But don’t fear! There’s help when you’re advancing on your enemy in form of pre-made snow boxes to crouch, peer, and throw from.
If it sounds a bit like dodgeball, that’s because it is. But it must be doing something right – Japan is famous for boasting the lowest crime rate in the world, and these stress busting sports contribute to that!
Which winter sports is your favourite? When you’re leaning more toward playing, rather than watching, your new passion; why not download Write Up – the app that lets you read, rate and review everything fitness related.