Hibernation is for bears. It also causes cabin fever. We’re Long Islanders. We brave the LIE every morning and 27 East every weekend of the summer. There’s no reason to let a little ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures stop us from leaving our homes during the winter. This year, brave the elements and get a workout in while you’re at it by trying out these five winter sports. Warning: Some of them require a crazy gene, but if you’re living here, chances are you have it.
Every four years since 1998, you have gotten entirely too into watching this sport during the Olympics. Those Canadians make it look easy on TV. You have to slide a 42-pound granite stone down a 120-foot sheet of ice, and it’s essentially chess on ice. There’s a whole lot of teamwork and strategy involved in choosing the ideal path and placement of the stone in each situation.
Where to go: You don’t need to book a trip to Scotland, where the game originated during medieval times, to play this sport, though that would be fun. Long Island Curling Club periodically hosts instructional sessions and even has a league.
It’s like kiteboarding on the water in the summer, only it’s freezing out and there’s snow and ice on the ground. If you’ve ever snowboarded, you have a leg up as you glide on a snowboard, but the up-and-forward force generated by the inflatable, canopy-shaped kite makes it more difficult to balance. Hardcore snowkiters can go 50 miles per hour. You might want to start with a lesson.
Where to go: In Greenland, kiteboarding is actually a mode of transportation. If a trip all the way over there isn’t in the cards, New York Kite Center and Kite Club New York run trips for beginners and seasoned pros.
If you got into scuba after reading the May issue of Pulse or are an annual participant in your local Polar Bear Plunge, consider ice diving. View spectacular ice formations and as you swim with cold-water fish, penguins, seals and maybe even a whale in crystal-clear waters. Note: you need to get certified to try this. Padi.com can help you find a course.
Where to go: Located on the eastern stretch of the St. Lawrence Seaway system, the world’s longest inland waterway, 1000 Islands boasts bucket-list type opportunities to ice dive from an airboat. While you’re down there, explore hundreds of shipwrecks and a submerged village with rail beds, sideways, an old canal system and a hydro electric station.
If you were surprised to learn elephant polo is a thing in our October issue, I hope you’re sitting down for this one: the sport of kings has a snowy variety, too. That’s right, snow polo. If the horses can get out there, you really have no excuse for being a couch potato for the next four months.
Where to go: If you want to experience the wonderful world of snow polo on national soil, head to Aspen. You can watch the pros play for global bragging rights at the Snow Polo World Cup Jan. 29-31 on the frozen lake of St. Moritz.
Your morning runs are a no-go with black ice and snow everywhere. Get your cardio kick by snowshoeing. A favorite of avid hikers, snowshoers can burn about 600 calories per hour.
Where to go: New York and New Jersey offer plenty of options. Take a look at the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference website to find one by you.