The 10 Most Unusual Winter Sports

Despite the reputation of downhill skiing in the resorts and its different variants, there are still many other winter sports that are too little known.

For people looking for new sensations, there is now a wide range of sensational and unusual winter sports! In this article, we will list them for you and introduce you to places where you can practice them.

Always more sensational than the other, here are the 10 most unusual winter sports for this winter.

1. Snowkiting for riders looking for thrills


Designed for snowboarders thirsty for freedom, thrills and speed, it's a unique winter activity.

Taking the same equipment as the snowboard , you will find the snow (the board), the boots, the fixed ones and this with a kite taken from the kitesurf. With the desire to slide comfortably on soft snow, but without the desires of snowboarding, snowkiting is an experience to be had.

Unlike the traditional sport where you can no longer move when you are on the flat, as soon as the sail rises, you slip. On the flat, uphill, crosswise, downhill, there are no limits and you can play with the reliefs.

To practice it, nothing very complicated, it is necessary to put on a climbing harness, to equip yourself to put on your board, to take your sail and the wind will do the job. You then have to learn to control your sail with the mountain wind, but you learn that quickly.

To fully enjoy your snowkiting experience, avoid slopes that are too steep, because it is not the most pleasant. Focus on hilly areas with virgin snow to avoid avalanches. In this way, you will be able to enjoy the speed in safety by also being able to indulge in freestyle or freeride.

With different spots on French territory, we recommend the Petit Saint-Bernard pass or Alpe d'Huez. The spaces are grandiose and the panorama breathtaking.

However, be sure to dress warmly, as the temperatures there are around -5, -10 degrees Celsius . In addition, with the wind, the feeling can be lower than -10. So as not to encase you in several layers of clothing that could hamper your movements, opt for one of our heated jackets . Designed for the practice of winter sports, they have a waterproof, breathable and heated structure to protect you from freezing temperatures while allowing you great mobility.

2. Speed ​​riding for skiers lacking speed

speed riding

Based on the same principle as snowkiting, but with skis on, speed riding is a sport where the sensations are unique.

Invented in the 2000s, this unusual sport uses the same sail as snowkiting, however the length of the ropes is shorter.

Derived from paragliding, this sport is managed by the French Free Flight Federation. In fact, its practice cannot be exercised only on snowy terrain.

The equipment is similar to alpine skiing , however, speedriders will have to wear a harness in order to attach the small surface sail . In this sport, unlike the snowboard variant, the more experienced the pilot becomes, the smaller the size of the kite will be. This will allow you to increase the speed but it will also require more experience to hover in complete safety.

To practice this somewhat eccentric activity, we recommend the Arc ski area as well as that of Val d'Isère. The latter is by far our favorite spot.

3. Horse-drawn ski joëring


Also called hitched skiing or equestrian skiing , this sporting discipline combines skiing with an equestrian hitch. To practice, it is a pony or a harnessed horse which will pull you with your skis.

Like dog sledding, this sport originated in Scandinavia where snow covers the ground for many months. In time, the native inhabitants of this country put on their skis and were towed by reindeer and later by horses, in order to move around.

In France, skiers first used horses to get up the slopes. They acted as a ski lift.

Today, there are a few French resorts open to the practice of this atypical sport. As you don't need to be a rider, you can practice this harnessed ski at the equestrian center of Alpe d'Huez . With its initiation ring located from 850 to 2000 meters above sea level, it will be ideal for practicing it. Another resort, that of La Clus az , offers an introduction to skijoring in the Aravis valley. With a view of the Balme estate, the panorama is sumptuous.
If you are interested in this unusual winter sport, know that for baptisms, an instructor will be at your side to guide you. You will be able to take full advantage of the pleasure of sliding towed by a magnificent horse.

4. Ice climbing, a new way to experience waterfalls


Also called ice climbing , it is a mountain activity originating in mountaineering.

Being a technical discipline first practiced to climb and cross glaciers, it became more and more democratized when English and American mountaineers specialized in climbing frozen waterfalls .

Requiring a great deal of experience in order to assess the quality of the ice, it can sometimes collapse due to temperature differences. Extreme, this sport requires climbing expertise as well as suitable equipment.

Requires crampons, a climbing harness, a helmet and of course ice axes. In terms of clothing, do not hesitate to run well because the temperatures are negative. To maintain excellent dexterity and precision in your movements, opt for one of our pairs of heated gloves . Designed to withstand extreme cold, they will be perfect for this type of sport.

For this extraordinary outdoor activity, there are various spots located in France. You will have for example the valley of Fournel, the valley of Freissinières or the valley of Haute-Romanche. All three in the Hautes-Alpes, you can practice ice climbing on routes from a few meters to several hundred meters high.

5. Ice diving to discover a new world


Out of the ordinary, this unusual activity will take you under a frozen lake. As you explore this unknown world, you will play with your most primitive fears. A real challenge for some, it will be a moment of poetry for others. With shades of blue and green, where luminous rays bring a timid light, you will experience a moment out of time.

With different places to indulge in this discipline, France is the ideal place to go swimming under the ice . Fully equipped with a suit to protect you from the cold, you will discover a unique sound and light show for about fifteen minutes.

To indulge in the pleasures of this discipline, we recommend the lake of Tignes or that of Montriond. Massive and vast, these are two ideal places.

6. The paret, the single-skate sledge


In the form of a small wooden sledge fitted with a single ironed runner as well as a simple board to sit on, the sensations promulgated by the Paret are surprising. With Spartan comfort, this lugeon was once used by children in the Manigod valley.

Unlike a classic toboggan, it allows skiing from a seated position. Rudimentary, the seated position grants this machine to be little accident-prone because of the center of gravity which is very low.

Each year, a competition takes place at the Col de la Croix Fry or at the Merdassier in Manigod. As part of tradition, this French championship attracts many participants every year.

You can practice this snow kart in many alpine resorts, such as La Clusaz or Manigod.

7. The airboard for adults and children


Like a sled, the airboard is nevertheless inflatable and requires a lying position. Invented in Switzerland at the beginning of the 21st century, it is also called bodyboarding .

Having the same principle as a luge, the objective is to slide down a snowy slope head first. More comfortable than a traditional sledge, this air cushion better absorbs the roughness of the track and promulgates interesting sensations.

Part of winter sports for the whole family, this fun activity will delight young and old alike.

To practice it, you can go to the winter sports resorts of La Plagne or that of Les Orres in the Alps.

8. Mountain biking on snow


Star of the summer on the grass or on the dirt, the mountain bike is an outsider during the winter season. Proposed with notched tires with metal studs, its practice generally takes place in the evening, when the slopes empty and the skiers have left the area.

Equipped with a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and suitable clothing, you will be able to enjoy this Fat Bike even during the day. In the resort of Les Menuires you can indeed ride on a track specially designed for this purpose. Practiced in a magnificent universe where the panoramas are breathtaking, you can indulge in this sport requiring you to master the laws of balance and gravity in order to stand on your two wheels.

Supervised by an experienced instructor, mountain bikers can indulge in descending the slopes by mastering slides and turns.

9. The YUKIGASSEN, the snowball fight for young and old

snowball fight

Who said "Snowball fights" were for kids? This game similar to the principles of dodgeball consists of forming two teams and eliminating the opposing team.

Originally from Japan, the "Yukigassen" is a competition that has existed for more than twenty years. The objective is to defend his flag so that he does not get captured. Timed, three rounds of three minutes are disputed by the participants and the winning team corresponds to the one having taken the flag of the other team the most times.

In Norway, a similar competition is organized in the town of Vardø in the county of Finnmark in the far north of the country.

On French territory, the resort of Avoriaz offers this activity on a dedicated site 40 meters long by 10 meters wide. This is enough to revive the memories of the oldest while creating new ones for the youngest.

10. The bobsleigh, thrills guaranteed


Discipline of the Winter Olympics, Bobsleigh is also practicable even when you are not a pro.

Offered in the resort of La Plagne, its track was built for the 1992 Alberville Olympics and is the only French bobsleigh track. With 19 bends spread over nearly 1.5 km, this giant ice slide offers exceptional sensations.

For an initiation, you will enjoy an Olympic track and four different experiences:

  • The Bob raft will bring you closer to 80 km/h. Able to carry 4 people, it is self-guided and self-braking.
  • The Speed ​​Luge is a self-guided and self-braking single seater that will propel you to 90 km/h.
  • Finally, the Bob Racing is piloted by a professional and carries 3 passengers. Closest to the Olympic experience, this machine will transport you at a speed of more than 120 km/h.

Demanding and technical, the La Plagne track is mastered by French pilots who know it inside out. Unforgettable experience and thrills guaranteed.

Remember, however, to opt for suitable clothing because the temperatures at this speed are freezing. In order to maintain excellent mobility and fully enjoy this unique experience, dress in one of our heated down jackets . Lightweight, efficient and elegant, they are designed to prevent you from overloading yourself with several layers of clothing and offer you unparalleled comfort. Favorite jackets of professionals, they will follow you throughout the winter season.

We are coming to the end of this article, if you have any questions regarding the ten activities presented above, do not hesitate to ask us in the comments, we will be happy to answer them.

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