Alternatives to ski
The air has turned chilly and there’s the promise of snow, so it’s time to break out the winter woollies. The white stuff is on its way which, for the keen and sporty types, means skiing and snowboarding excursions aren’t far away. And pre-Christmas skiing often means cheaper ski passes, fewer people on the slopes and shorter lift queues.
Skiing is the most popular snow sport in Europe but it isn’t the only way to get down a mountain! There are plenty of ways to enjoy the snow and not all of them require expensive equipment or an instructor. If you’re not keen on skiing, there are many fun alternatives with most resorts now hosting a number of different activities, aimed at all age groups and experience levels.
The Flexicover Teamlooks at some great activities that will give you a taste of the downhill thrills without the need for skiing skills!
Fast, inflatable fun with little in the way of skill required (or actually feasible), snow tubing is pretty cool. It uses similar rings to those you’d enjoy on a day at the beach but instead of bobbing about gently on the waves, here you get to bounce around on an exhilarating snowy ride! Some places like Blue Mountain in Palmerton, USA even have family-sized tubes, so you can hurtle along with your loved ones. Switzerland leads the way in Europe; over 30 of its ski resorts now offer snow tubing. Relatively safe and non-competitive, it’s an activity that will appeal to the whole family!
Enjoy this solo or with the family as you slide down snow-covered slopes on sleds without runners, putting you in closer contact with the ground and adding to the fun! Plus, with no prior experience needed you can get stuck right in. Those looking for a competitive edge can try their hand at the variant called skeleton, an Olympic discipline that was actually listed as tobogganing at the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics. For a real treat, visit Val Thorens, one of the highest resorts in Europe, in the French Alps. Its 6km toboggan run is one of the longest, taking about 45 minutes to zoom your way down!
Husky dog sledding
As one of the most traditional forms of snow travel (used both for hunting and transport), it makes for an unforgettable winter holiday experience! You’ll have a unique experience as you sit back to take in breathtaking scenery whilst being pulled over snow by sled dogs at speeds of up to 32kph. Special dog breeds are used, such as the Siberian Husky being the main one although the Alaskan Husky is also popular for its handsome look. Sweden and Finland are popular destinations to experience this along with Canada and Alaska, where the practice is considered to have originated!
Similar to a bodyboard for use on water, an airboard is a lightweight inflatable sled, that’s easy to manoeuvre, so guaranteed to give you a fast, fun-filled ride as you speed headfirst down the mountain! Originally created by a Swiss snowboarder, airboarding has now become a mainstream activity and is increasingly popular in ski resorts. Popular with thrill-seekers, the ridged underside allows for sharp turns and exhilarating manoeuvres; plus the board can reach speeds of around 100kph! Its ease of use means that this is a truly accessible activity that all levels can participate in - just take a short run-up, drop down on your stomach and enjoy the ride!
For those who want to leave the high impact activities to the others, there are a host of less exerting activities available in resorts. Spas are now a quintessential part of a ski holiday experience and most places now have such facilities with an accompanying array of treatments. So indulge in a day of pampering, relaxation and rejuvenation in a sauna or hot tub! Refresh yourself with a dip in the pool, then enjoy a leisurely lunch in a mountainside café, bar or restaurant. Or take time out for shopping, catching up with a good book and resting - after all, that’s what holidays are for!
Wherever your travels take you this year and wherever you are fortunate enough to try your hand at something new, we at Flexicover Team are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away. Safe travels!