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Winter Sports So Hot, They're Cool


Sure, you can be old school and snowboard this winter. You can even take the folks and go skiing. But to be really on the edge, check out some of the sports the Ministry of Weird Things to Do on Snow and Ice has come up with.

First, there's skeleton, which is making a comeback at the Winter Olympics this year. Think going down a luge chute at up to 80 miles per hour on the "bones" of a bob sled, headfirst. For a first-hand experience, check out GORP ( Face dragging is evidently a concern. National Geographic has covered the sport, too, at, but then we're used to seeing stuff about ritual scarification in that magazine.

And while we're on Olympic sports, there's the biathlon, because what couldn't be great about cross-country skiing and target practice? The Winter Olympic site ( ts/bt/bt_index.html&s=sloc) has a good description. (You can also just go to and navigate your way from there.)

Maybe you'd prefer a sport that doesn't involve guns. How about bandy? According to the American Bandy Assn. (, "It is best described as field hockey on skates." Ice hockey, on the other hand, is best described as bandy, only more popular. The site says "Cave paintings in Egypt suggest that a game similar to bandy was being played there 4,000 years ago." Yeah, when the Nile freezes over.

You might be reluctant to ask a team-full of people if they want to bandy. For skijor, though, you need only a reindeer, dog, horse or possibly a friend with low self-esteem to pull you around on skis. The North American Ski Joring Assn. ( seems to prefer horses but the Midwest Skijorers ( features dogs, as does the North American Skijoring and Ski Pulk Assn. ( But then, they don't agree on whether "skijor" is one word or two, either.

Allergic to fur and none of your friends are willing to mush? Try ski-biking, which is best described as biking on snow, but not. The American Ski-Bike Assn. ( says ski-biking originated almost 150 years ago and the Czech Republic even has a stamp commemorating the sport. But perhaps a Swiss ski-biker's site ( sums it up best with: "Snowbike is a sport for the devils." Take that, snowboarders.

Not every winter sport is about competition and speed. Peace and quiet and cardio are not mutually exclusive.

Take snowshoeing, which is best described as hiking with tennis rackets. Snowshoers, like their sport, are a quiet bunch with not a lot on the Net. ( has some links, as does Arte Outdoors ( snowshoeing).

If you want to hang out, there's ice climbing, described as rock climbing on frozen water. Ice climbers are much more wired than snowshoers. Rock & Ice ( has current conditions and ( features a climb in Lee Vining Canyon.

If all this winter activity makes you want to curl up in front of the air conditioner, try RSN's cam network ( that covers many mountain resorts. Voyeurism is never out of season.


Robert Burns is graphics editor at The Times' Business section. He can be reached at robert.burns@

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