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The GFORCE guide to... Winter Sports

Added 03 Dec 2018 by GFORCE

The GFORCE guide to... Winter Sports

The season of dark nights and cold days is nearly upon us, but it's not all doom and gloom because that means winter sports are here for another year! Let's take a look at five different sports you could get involved in.

Ice Skating
At the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984, Torvill and Dean made history by becoming the highest scoring ice dancers of all time with their gold medal winning Boléro routine, but style and spins aren't needed to get into ice skating. If that's not your thing then there's always speed skating, which involves simple races round an ice rink. The Dutch are titans of the long track (400m laps) programme right now but Britain's Elise Christie is up there with the very best on the short track (111m laps) circuit. Synchronised team skating is also gaining recognition, much like synchro swimming. Every variation of the sport involves speed, balance, precision and a lot of falling over.

Ice Hockey
Very similar skills are used here, but then add in a game of hockey on top of it. Ice Hockey is hugely popular in North America, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe and it involves a lot of hard fought battles, which very often turn into full blown fights. Players wear a lot of protection so the drama created comes at little cost for the athletes themselves. Teams of six players each try to move a puck around the ice with their sticks and get it into the opponent’s goal. The team with the highest number of goals at the end of three 20 minute periods wins.

When the snow falls, here's one to try. Snowboarding is much like skateboarding on snow. It has a similar skill set, but also much of the culture around the sport is very close too. More than speed and time-based success, snowboarders look to do tricks and ride over obstacles to earn points instead which is known as freestyle (slopestyle). You also have ‘big air’ which is in a half-pipe. A newer event for snowboarding is snowboardcross (boardercross) where competitors race against each other down a route, which is great fun to watch. When the snow falls, whip out an old ironing board and see how that works.

Here is the inverse to snowboarding. Skiing is traditionally all about speed and time. In the purest version of the sport, athletes plummet down a mountainside, sticking to a certain route, in the fastest time possible. However, there is also downhill, slalom and moguls as variants of this, as well as ski cross where skiers race down a fixed course similar to boadercross.
Other variations involve trekking through the wilderness or going on cross-country adventures, but you can get involved in the downhill version in the UK at certain indoor ski slopes. That way, whatever the weather, you can get your practice in!

Skeleton, Bobsleigh or Luge
This should come most naturally to us as we hark back to our childhood and do what is basically sledging, but wearing lycra. Like many winter sports, Skeleton, Bobsleigh and the Luge involve the basic premise of sliding downhill fast. Skeleton is where you lie on your front, the Luge you are on your back and the Bobsleigh (which appears to involve a slightly more robust looking piece of equipment!) can be done in pairs or fours. Britain has a top level complex at the University of Bath where Amy Williams, Shelley Rudman and Lizzie Yarnold all trained on their way to winning multiple Olympic gold and silver medals at the last four Winter Games. Failing that, watch Cool Runnings and try sliding on your best oven tray.

Which winter sport could be for you? Whether you have a need for speed or the technical skills to pull off some serious tricks, wintery weather doesn't mean you have to stay indoors!

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