Ah, Canadians… we’re a bit unusual, aren’t we? On top of endlessly apologizing and indulging in Timmies daily, we also have some strange winter sports.
Winter is practically the main only season in Canada. Depending on where you are, there might even be snow year-round! Rather than stay inside on our chesterfields, we’ve found many unique ways to take advantage of the winter months and have some fun outside—like these unusual winter sports.
BLM Wyoming Flickr cc by 2.0
Cross-country skiing is a common and well-loved snow sport. To spice things up a little, try skijoring. Skijor is essentially cross-country skiing while being pulled by one or several dogs. Both the skier and dogs are strapped to harnesses connected by rope. While the skier pushes on with their skis and poles, the dogs tug and pull to speed them up. Although dogs are most common, horses are also used.
2. Dog sled
Maybe you’re looking for a sport like skijoring, but would rather sit back and “relax” while the work is done for you. In that case, dog sledding is exactly what you’re looking for. Wrap yourself in several blankets, feel the cold wind flow through your hair and cry out “mush!”
Jon Wick Flickr cc by 2.0
If you’re looking for adrenaline, then luge is for you. One of the oldest winter sports, luge involves one or two people lying on their backs on a tiny sled, feet first, while speeding down an icy track at roughly 140 kilometres per hour with no brakes to slow you down. Sliders use their calve muscles or shoulders to steer and turn corners perfectly in order to race down the tracks faster than their competitors.
Groman123 Flickr cc by sa 2.0
If you thought luge sounded a little tame, then you should try out skeleton. Skeleton is similar to luge, but this time, instead of feet first, you go head first. To make it even wilder, athletes run almost 50 yards downhill before launching themselves on their sled to race down the winding course at speeds of roughly 130 kilometres per hour. It’s not exactly for the faint of heart.
5. Ice Sailing
Carter Brown Flickr cc by 2.0
Canadians are adept at taking summer sports and creating winter versions. Especially since, after all, winter is our most prominent season. Ice sailing is a great example of this, because who said you can’t go sailing in the winter? Take a sailboat and add skates. Let the wind whisk you across frozen lakes and rivers, doing your best to avoid thin ice.
6. Snow kiting
Konstantin Zamkov Flickr cc by 2.0
Although cold windy days convince most people to hide indoors, those are the ideal conditions for snow kiting enthusiasts. Snow kiting involves holding onto a large kite as the wind pulls you on your skis or snowboard. Although this sport has been around for decades, it has recently become more common, especially in northern Canada.
7. Ice diving
Richard Smith Flickr cc by 2.0
If you’re looking for a rush, try diving into the frigid icy waters of a Canadian lake, river or ocean in the middle of winter. Ice diving is an extreme winter sport, but it seems like the entire country has come to adopt it. On New Year's Day, many cities across Canada participate in a “polar bear dip” to ring in the new year (and shock the hangover out of your system).
8. Ice racing
Stephen Nelson Flickr cc by nd 2.0
Because again, anything that can be done in summer can be adjusted for the colder months, right? Racing cars on the road is fun, but when combined with snow and ice it’s just that much better.
Tracks are flooded to create icy routes for cars to race along. The colder the temperature, the better the time. You might be wondering how drivers don't slide into the first snowbank? The trick: finely studded tires to add traction and learning how to perfectly drift around each corner.
9. Ice climbing
Sensing a theme? With so much ice around, Canadians have to find new and unique ways to make use of it all. Those who love rock climbing will love ice climbing! Frozen waterfalls, icefalls and cliffs create stunning settings for ice climbers. Grab two pickaxes—one for each hand—sharply razored shoes for each foot, and the total lack of fear of falling off the side of a cliff into the snow.
10. Ice fishing
sookie Flickr cc by 2.0
You don’t have to pack up the fishing rods in wintertime. Even after the lakes and rivers have frozen over, Canadians venture to the waters to partake in ice fishing. This involves carving a hole into the deep ice, setting up your chair and shelter, sipping on a hot drink and waiting. You might catch a trout, northern pike or whitefish for dinner!
Visit Lakeland Flickr cc by nd 2.0
Snowmobiles aren’t just to help you get around in the deep snow. Gather your friends and race across the snowy tracks while going off jumps, bumps steep hills and any other kinds challenges. Just like dirt-biking, snowmobilers have to complete a track in a shorter amount of time than their competitors. At least unlike the hard dirt, soft blankets of snow sound nicer to fall on in case of wipe-outs.
If any of these winter sports sound normal to you, you might be extremely Canadian...
and a little unusual.