New winter sports to experience on snowy terrain, from snowbikes to bumper cars on ice

Associated Press

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - After nearly 50 years of living in the Rocky Mountains, I thought I knew how to enjoy the winter. I've gone skiing, skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tobogganing, sleigh riding, dog-sledding and more.

But until this winter, I'd never heard of bumper cars on a skating rink. And it wasn't until recently that I had my first chance to carve turns down a ski hill on a snowbike.

It's part of a trend to provide visitors to ski resorts and other snowy destinations with a wider variety of choices, said Troy Hawks, managing editor of the National Ski Areas Association Journal.

"What we're seeing is a larger swath of the family — you've got the grandkids all the way to the grandparents — and all of them have their idea of how they want to spend their day," he said.

Some activities are more popular in certain regions, and some aren't well advertised, so for a different spin on a snow-destination vacation, here are some things to look for:

AIR BAGS

These massive, inflatable air bags are placed at the bottom of jumps to allow skiers and boarders to try flips and spins. Nail the landing on your feet and you ride off down the hill. Fail, and you have a soft landing; http://www.bagjump.com or http://www.bigairbag.com .

AIRBOARDS

A high-tech spin on winter tubing, these snow body boards are inflatable sleds with moulded plastic runners on the bottom and handles on the top. The sleds can reach speeds of 60 mph or more (nearly 100 kilometres per hour), and users steer by shifting their body weight. They're offered at some ski areas (though banned at others) as well as through some private operators; http://www.airboard.com has a partial list of rental locations.

BUMPER CARS ON ICE

Just what it sounds like, these are turning up at skating rinks from coast to coast. The battery-operated "cars" are large rubber tubes with moulded seats that can hold one adult or an adult and small child. Controlled by two joysticks, they are easy to steer or spin as they bump along on wheels with tiny cleats. Most rinks have age, height or weight restrictions.

FIRST TRACKS

The opportunity for intermediate and advanced skiers to take the first runs in the morning before the slopes open to the public is an option at more resorts. Some, like Northstar in California, require skiers to stay with a guide; others, like Aspen, Colo., include a gourmet breakfast. Steamboat Springs, Colo., has been experimenting with multiple day First Track passes, some of which can be shared among buddies.

SKIJORING

From the Norwegian word meaning "ski driving," skijoring is still primarily the stuff of winter carnivals and cowboy competitions. But some places, like the adult-only Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Mont., offer guests the chance to see what it's like to be pulled on Alpine skis behind a horse. Other resorts, like Eden Mountain Lodge in Eden Mills, Vt., and Devil's Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colo., work with experienced skiers and their own dogs to learn what it's like to go mushing on Nordic skis.

ICE CASTLES

These massive ice castles are formed by thousands and thousands of icicles. A series of pathways take visitors through ice columns, tunnels, caverns and archways. Introduced last year in Silverthorne, Colo., the castles were being built this winter in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

SNOWBIKES

Bicycles that ride on skis, rather than wheels, have been around in various forms for decades, but now they have the blessing of some ski resorts, which rent the bikes and offer instruction. Smaller skis clip to your ski boots, helping with balance and manoeuvring. The bikes can be taken on the chairlifts to access a variety of terrain; http://www.snowbike.info .

SNOWKITING

Snowkiting or kite boarding is a cousin to ocean kite surfing. For the winter version, an experienced, fearless skier or snowboarder is harnessed to a kite and uses wind power to propel themselves around. An extreme sport, it requires strength and an understanding of wind patterns. Lessons are recommended.

View Comments

Recommended for You

  • Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

    NASHPORT, Ohio (AP) — A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

    Associated Press
  • Baby Prince George visits Australian zoo

    Baby Prince George stepped out in public with his parents on Sunday for the first time in Australia, for an encounter with wildlife at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. George, eight months old and third in line to the throne after grandfather Princes Charles and father William, stole the show as his parents…

    AFP
  • Live Bulldog Puppy Webcam!

    This live webcam shows a litter of English Bulldog puppies who were born just a few weeks ago! Watch these seven adorable puppies live 24/7.

    AdChoices LiveAnimals.tvSponsored
  • Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

    WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway.

    Associated Press
  • Hopkins becomes oldest to unify world titles

    Bernard Hopkins, the oldest world champion in boxing history at age 49, became the eldest fighter to unify world titles Saturday when he defeated Beibut Shumenov in a light-heavyweight showdown. Two judges gave ageless wonder Hopkins a split-decision victory by the same score, 116-111, while the…

    AFP
  • View

    Missing Malaysia Airlines jet (12 photos)

    The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet entered a new stage Friday when navy ships deployed stingray-shaped sound locators in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, in an increasingly urgent hunt for the plane's data recorders before their beacons fall silent. Officials leading the…

    Reuters
  • House Republicans Might Pass Immigration Bills After All, Just as They Always Planned

    Remember earlier this year when House Republicans said they would deal with immigration reform once the primaries were over? Well, according to The Wall Street Journal, House Speaker John Boehner told a group of donors that they'll pass bills addressing the issue this summer. At a fundraiser in Las…

    The Atlantic Wire
  • 5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus

    As Christians worldwide gather for Easter to celebrate their belief in the death and rebirth of Jesus, researchers continue to delve into the mysteries that surround the man. The following are five questions about Jesus that, for now, at least, remain unanswered. In 2008, astronomer Dave Reneke…

    LiveScience.com
  • Autopsies done on 7 Utah babies found in garage

    PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (AP) — The Utah State Medical Examiner's Office has completed autopsies of seven infants found in cardboard boxes in a woman's garage, but it is unclear when the results will be released.

    Associated Press
  • 74-Yr-Old Outsmarts Doctors. Reduces Her Wrinkles.

    The ultimate skin tightening regimen that is helping every day women achieve younger looking skin without breaking the bank.

    AdChoices LifeCellSkinSponsored
  • Wie's win snaps LPGA title drought

    Kapolei (United States) (AFP) - American Michelle Wie won her first LPGA title since 2010, firing five-under par 67 for a two-shot victory in the Lotte Championship. Wie had six birdies, and not even a three-putt bogey at the final hole at her home course, Ko Olina, could dim her joy at her third…

    AFP
  • Baby Can’t Open Mouth in Medical Mystery

    Parents Start Website To Find Out What's Wrong With Baby Wyatt

    Good Morning America
  • Miley Cyrus Remains Hospitalized, Two More Shows Canceled

    Nashville and Louisville mark two more concert stops Miley Cyrus will miss due to her hospitalization — and she’s sick of it. “sick of waking up to needles,” Cyrus tweeted early Friday (April 18) morning. “#goingthruit #floydfriday” The former Disney Channel star has been hospitalized...

    ABC News
  • Philippines' oldest artworks in danger of disappearing

    Binangonan (Philippines) (AFP) - On a small rock wall a short drive from the Philippine capital, enigmatic carvings that are believed to date back 5,000 years are in danger of disappearing before their mysteries can be solved. The 127 engravings of people, animals and geometric shapes are the…

    AFP
  • What the hell is this American plane owned by the Bank of Utah doing in IRAN?

    On Tuesday morning, a plane owned in trust by the Bank of Utah showed up in a very visible area of the Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under President Barack Obama, the United States has eased some of the long-standing punitive economic sanctions against…

    The Daily Caller
  • The Cheerleader Murders

    For five long and very strange years, death haunted tiny Dryden, NY, a town near the Finger Lakes where a plague of car accidents, suicides, and even grisly murders involving two popular cheerleaders just kept mounting up.

    The Daily Beast
  • Want to Advance Your Healthcare or Science Career?

    USciences is focused on the sciences & healthcare. We've been educating students to become leaders & innovators for almost 2 centuries. Get more Info!

    AdChoices USciencesSponsored
  • US ground forces to be sent to Poland, report says

    Poland's defense minister has said US ground forces will be sent to Poland to expand NATO's presence there as events continue to unfold in neighboring Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. Tomasz Siemoniak told the Post Friday that military planners were already working on the details and that…

    AFP
  • Play

    2 Boys Sexually Assaulted in Park Restrooms in South Bay

    Police in Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach on Saturday were investigating separate incidents in which two boys were sexually assaulted this week in park restrooms.

    KTLA - Los Angeles
  • New Zealand says yes to Nigella despite US exclusion

    New Zealand officials have granted a special visa to celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, who has admitted cocaine use, in an apparent confirmation she has been blocked from entering the United States, according to a report. US authorities declined to specify why Lawson was stopped from flying from…

    AFP
  • Ohio teacher fired over comment on black president

    CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio teacher has been fired after a black student who said he wanted to become president claimed the teacher told him the nation didn't need another black commander in chief.

    Associated Press
  • SARS-Like MERS Virus Spreads Among Health Care Workers

    Deadly Virus Has Killed 93 People Worldwide

    Good Morning America
  • View

    Photos of the day - April 18, 2014 (37 photos)

    An actor is silhouetted hanging on a cross during a performance in Trafalgar Square in London, wearing ghilli suits, Iranian army troops march in a parade marking National Army Day just outside Tehran and Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the first practice session…

    Yahoo News
  • Say Goodbye to the Inner Thigh Beach Rash

    NoNetz swimwear prevents the inner thigh rash most guys get at the beach. Our unique anti chafe, anti bacterial liner lets you enjoy vacations again.

    AdChoices NoNetz, Inc.Sponsored