Are you bored of boarding or anti-alpine skiing? Then perhaps we could interest you in some alternative means of getting down the mountain. Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular way of navigating the piste, but there’s more than one way to slide down your favourite ski slope.
Here is just a selection of the maddest, weird winter sports that, if you haven’t come across them before, you need to know about now!
We love a good factoid at Inghams – an obscure piece of knowledge that will only ever be useful in a game of Trivial Pursuit or a pub quiz. So, if anyone ever asked us “what winter sport was invented by a postman?” we wouldn’t hesitate to answer: Velogemel.
The velogemel is a type of toboggan which you ride like a bicycle. At the front of the velogemel is a steering column with a short ski at the base, enabling the rider to steer the direction of the vehicle.
Velogemel was invented in the beautiful ski resort of Grindelwald by the village’s local postman, Christian Bühlmann. After a summer of delivering the mail by bicycle, this inventive postman realised he would need an alternative mode of transport for his winter deliveries. Adapting a toboggan into a bike-like structure, the velogemel was invented in 1911.
Today, the velogemel isn’t used for delivering letters, but it is a popular on piste mode of transport which you’ll frequently spot on the slopes around Grindelwald and Wengen.
The Yooner might just be the perfect alternative for skiers and snowboarders with a habit of falling over. Seated in a Yooner, you’ll have a much lower centre of gravity, just 20cm above the ground. You can ride in comfort too. The Yooner has shock absorbing design ideal for weathering the bumps as you ride the pistes.
The lightweight design is perfect for gliding down the mountain with ease. A long handle at the front of the Yooner provides fantastic steering and simple breaking, making this an easy and enjoyable ride.
La Plagne is a great ski resort for trying weird winter sports. Here, you can choose to descend the mountain on a Snowscoot, a Trikke, a Snake Gliss, an Airboard, and (you guessed it) a Yooner.
All experiences are greater when they’re shared, and on a Snake Gliss, a bizarre toboggan train typically made up of around ten sledges, you’ve no choice but to descend with other people.
Snake Gliss is a popular après activity that you may have tried already. If you haven’t, imagine a series of small sledges linked together like a snake, slithering at speed down the mountain.
What makes the Snake Gliss a distinctly different experience to a classic toboggan (apart from the obvious) is its wild, erratic snake like movement as it descends the mountain. Passengers at the back of the Snake Gliss have to hang on tight because the further back you sit, the more you can expect to fling from side-to-side!
Snake Gliss is widely available across many Alpine ski resorts in France, including Val Thorens, and your Inghams representative will be able to help you book a Snake Gliss experience in resort.
If you’re going to plummet down the mountain head first then you may as well do it on a comfortable inflatable raft. Airboarding emerged in Switzerland in the 1990s. The Airboard was invented by Swiss snowboarder Joe Steiner after he injured his leg in a snowboarding accident. The Airboard was designed to be a fun, yet safe way to descend the mountain.
Riding an Airboard is similar to the skeleton bobsleigh, with your head facing down the mountain and your chest on the board. The similarities end there though. While the skeleton takes place on a bobsleigh track, you can ride an Airboard on the piste. And the inflatable build makes and Airboard far more comfortable to ride.
In homage to Airboarding’s Swiss origins we’d elect to give this weird winter sport a try in Davos, Switzerland. Airboards are available to rent locally and the resort benefits from having excellent, lengthy pistes ideal for extended cruising.
Where: where you dare!
Is snowboarding not similar enough to skateboarding for your tastes? Then perhaps snowskating is for you!
A cross between a snowboard and skateboard, the snowskate is designed for riding on the snow. However, unlike a snowboard, snowskates are much shorter in length (roughly skateboard sized) and come without bindings. Snowskates are primarily used in terrain parks, although theoretically you can use them on the slopes too.
Snowskating is designed to act and feel far more similar to skateboarding, whereas snowboarding has more in common with surfing. There are a number of different types of snowskate out there, from single deck to double decked varieties as well as a 4×4 (imagine the wheels of a skateboard replaced with toboggan runners).
Compared with skis and snowboards, snowskates are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from a number of online equipment retailers.
Okay, this isn’t a way to get down the mountain. And it isn’t even that weird of a winter sport! But we’ve included it here because a) we love the name, and b) it sounds like incredible fun!
Yukigassen is organised snowball fighting. Maybe organised is stretching the definition some-what, however we’re sticking with it! What separates Yukigassen from your standard, spur of the moment snowball fight is the tournament structure and obstacle-course style arenas. Think paint-ball fighting but with snow.
Yukigassen orginated in Japan, a compound word formed from the Japanese for “snow” (“yuki”) and “battle” (“gassen”). A Yukigassen game takes place between two teams with players dressed in protective clothing and helmets. Snowballs are pre-made (and limited in number) and the small Yukigassen court consists of a number of obstacles that contestants can take shelter behind.
Competitive snowball fights take place across the world, but you can travel with Inghams to the Snowboxx festival in Avoriaz where you can watch or participate in the Snowball Fight Night. Snowball Fight Night is a knock-out competition where 16 teams of 5 compete to be the official best snowball fighters at Snowboxx.