Saturday, November 24, 2007

Health and fitness: Top 10 winter sports

Lowdown: This is the most exhilarating sport on the planet. Sail on ice and reach speeds of 70mph.

Would suit: Speedsters, adrenaline junkies and yachties bored with the pace of water sailing.

Do: Wear a helmet.

Don't: Sail over thin ice.

Where: Sweden and Poland.

How much: A course costs about £140 a day including accommodation at the Ice Sailing Centre, Sweden ( Contact Chris Williams for further details ( See also

Try also: Land yachting, its (slower) on-shore equivalent.



Lowdown: Climbing frozen waterfalls.

Would suit: Serious adventurers with a lot of upper body strength.

Do: Make sure your ice axes are sharp before setting out.

Don't: Stand on the rope while wearing crampons.

Where: Scotland's Ice Factor is the largest indoor ice climbing centre in Europe. Or, for the real deal, head to La Grave in France.

How much: Lessons start at £45 per person (01855 831100;

Try also: Indoor rock climbing.


Lowdown: A bike with skis instead of wheels. It's great fun and very easy to learn.

Would suit: Everyone of all ages and abilities, because it's so quick to master.

Do: Sit slightly forward so you can turn by just leaning to one side.

Don't: Be a nutter - you're an ambassador for the sport.

Where: The ski resorts of the Alps. You can find where to hire a ski bike at

How much: A two-hour hire session costs £25 with Ski Bike at the French resorts of Val d'Isère and Tignes (0033 675 42 40 91;

Try also: Mountain biking on snow.


Lowdown: Think ITV's Dancing on Ice but without Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.

Would suit: Families looking for an activity for everyone.

Do: Wear gloves if you're just starting. You'll be grateful when you fall over.

Don't: Attempt to lift your partner above your head if you wish your relationship to last.

Where: Planet Ice has dozens of rinks around the country. In London, head to Somerset House (

How much: Prices at Planet Ice start from £4 (

Try also: Curling. It is an Olympic sport.


Lowdown: Snowboarding meets kite-surfing. Kites allow you to ski uphill and do incredible tricks. And you can ride on skis or a board.

Would suit: Extremists, kite enthusiasts, budding polar explorers.

Do: Know what you're doing. This can be properly extreme.

Don't: Kite under any lifts.

Where: Frozen lakes and snowfields from the Alps to Antarctica.

How much: A week's snow kiting course with the Paracademy costs around £350 (01305 824 797;

Try also: Para-skiing, where you ski off a cliff and para-glide back down to earth.


Lowdown: Slip into your favourite figure-hugging Lycra and follow an undulating trail through mountain valleys on long thin skis.

Would suit: Marathon runners, walkers, people who like to ski at a gentler pace.

Do: Learn the "skate" technique. It's much faster.

Don't: Try to "edge" when turning, it will only result in a face plant into the snow.

Where: The frozen lake of St Moritz, Switzerland.

How much: A two-hour lesson with Pontresina Snowsports costs £17 (0041 81 842 68 44;

Try also: Telemarking - it's the ultimate skiing discipline and mightily impressive.


Lowdown: It may not compare to the Alps but it's still a lot of fun.

Would suit: Beginners and those looking for practice.

Do: Book.

Don't: Try the freestyle park if you're over 30. Some things are best left to youngsters.

Where: Milton Keynes

How much: A one hour session is £21 for adults, £18 for children (0871 222 5670;

Try also: Tobogganing. Forget lessons. Just hire a slide and go for a ride.


Lowdown: Fresh air, woolly hats and scarves, the crunch of frosted leaves underfoot - oh, and hills.

Would suit: Romantics, lovers of the outdoors and rambler types.

Do: Wear the brightest anorak in your wardrobe.

Don't: Leave the dog behind.

Where: For a list of top walks, contact the Ramblers' Association (020 7339 8500;

How much: Free.

Try also: Winter mountaineering.


Lowdown: Running in the snow, made possible by the latest type of snowshoes.

Would suit: Fitness fanatics and people who enjoy strange looks from other people.

Do: Wear a thick pair of socks.

Don't: Try running with the old 'tennis racquet' style of snowshoe.

Where: America is more into this than laid-back Europe, but Les Gets and Morzine in France are ideal spots for the sport.

How much: An afternoon snowshoe session costs £20 (00 33 670 66 77 56;

Try also: Snowshoeing at a walking pace.

By Telegraph

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