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Play Like an Olympian This Winter: Alternative Sports

Looking for something interesting to do this winter? Tired of the same old winter activities? Go off the beaten path and play like an Olympian this winter by trying out some alternative sports! Some of these incorporate traditional activities like skiing or skating, but they’re more amped up so you can satisfy that need for winter adventure! Some you can do right in your own backyard, but we’ve also included some resources where you can learn and participate right here in Michigan!


The winter landscape can be so peaceful, but if that isn’t your style, punch the throttle and get going! Michigan is an amazing state for snowmobiling, with over 6,300 miles of snowmobile-friendly trails! Some extensive trails span the Lower Peninsula, but the UP has some amazing trails that you shouldn’t miss out on! Just like with any recreational vehicle, it is a costly investment, so if you’re new to snowmobiling, rent one first to see if the snowy, speedy lifestyle is for you!


Looking for something completely out of the ordinary? Snowkiting is the winter version of kiteboarding, but instead of surfing the waves, you’ll fly across snowy hills! Using either skis or a snowboard, snowkiters harness a parasail to themselves, which allows them to perform gravity-defying jumps that are awesome to watch and even more thrilling to perform! Definitely not something you see every day! Check out MACkite's website for more information and locations that are best for snowkiting in Michigan!

Ice Climbing

If you love rock climbing, ice climbing is the perfect activity for you! Ice climbing is very similar to rock climbing, but instead of using hands to help scale cliffs, climbers use pickaxes in the ice to make their way up! It’s more of a challenge, but it’s well worth it for the sport and the amazing views you’ll get of beautiful winter landscapes! Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an amazing place to ice climb, with towering waterfalls and sandstone cliffs! If you’d like to pick up this hobby, head to Fenton and visit the Peabody Ice Climbing Club, which is an ice climbing venue with ice towers that measure 45 feet and 72 feet tall! It’s a great place to start so you can get proper training, practice, and find out if you like ice climbing! Find out more on the Peabody Ice Climbing Club's website!


You’d probably be lying if you said you’ve watched luge on TV or during the Olympics and haven’t imagined trying it! Stop pretending to luge on your regular everyday sled and try it out for yourself! The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex in Muskegon features an amazing luge track that was created by an Olympian! Although it seems intimidating, part of the track is designed for the general public so anyone can experience this thrilling winter sport! You can also head up to Negaunee and luge down Lucy Hill, which is the only full-length natural luge track in the U.S.! The Upper Peninsula Luge Club opens this track up to the public, so be sure to try it out!


Have the need for speed? Try out some fast-paced speedskating! Although this alternative winter sport is probably more suitable for kids to start out on, you can give it a try if you’re already an experienced skater! It’s definitely a lot more thrilling than an afternoon of simple ice skating! If your kids are interested, there are a few different clubs of the Michigan Speedskating Association to check out!

Ski Jumping

This is an activity best left to the professionals, but kids may enjoy training for ski jumping, and our great state of Michigan features one of the highest artificially-created ski jumps in the world! Head up to Iron Mountain in the U.P. and check out the Pine Mountain Ski Jump! This jump is used by the Kiwanis Ski Club, which hosts the annual FIS Continental Cup jumping competition every year! If you can’t jump, join the crowd of others to watch this amazing competition, which is held in February!


Want to enjoy something quiet and at your own pace? Get your trusty canine friend ready and head out to go Skijoring! This fun sport is a combination of cross country skiing and dog sledding! The skier wears a harness and the dog pulls them across the snowy landscape! It kind of kills two birds with one stone, as you’ll be able to get out and enjoy a great winter sport, and your dog will love the workout! You don’t need a lot of equipment for this, just some skis and poles, a harness, and a large dog or a couple of smaller ones! You can go skijoring just about anywhere too, so get out there and enjoy!


Curling is one of those sports that you’ve probably thought, “I can do that!” Why not try out this alternative winter sport this winter? In this sport, players slide large stones across an iced lane, which features a target at the end where the stone should come to rest to score points. Other players, called sweepers, use brooms to brush the ice to reduce friction under the stone and help clear debris on the ice so the stone can successfully land on the target! Want to learn more and try it out for yourself? Detroit features its own Detroit Curling Club, where you can learn the rules, participate in league nights, and enjoy the sport with others who love it too!

Are you ready to play like an Olympian this winter? Which of these alternative winter sports are you most excited to try? Comment and share if you participate in any of these awesome activities, give tips for beginners, or just let us know which one you’d like to watch!

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