So much winter, so little time. With Yukon’s abundance of winter recreation options, how do you choose your sport? Here’s some analysis to help you get the best personal rate of return on your athletic investment.
For our purpose, this category includes various activities that involve going downhill at speed on slippery boards, such as snowboarding, alpine skiing, and telemark skiing, though enthusiasts will take exception to such a vast homogenization.
The main benefit of these sports is that you can go down hills at a rapid speed. The second advantage is that large mechanical devices carry you up the hill so that you can descend at speed again. Third, you can go really fast, downhill! Fourth, did I mention the speed?
Drawbacks to these gravity-fed sports include the preponderance of knee injuries, the high cost of equipment (even used), and expensive lift tickets. Of course, you can ski down mountains where no lift ticket is required, although this benefit is tempered by the long drive and the slow walk up the large hill.
Give me the goods: Going downhill fast with a minimum sweat investment is a fun way to spend time in the white stuff. Après-ski culture can be particularly satisfying.
Cross Country skiing
Voted the sport Most Likely to Involve Hand Knit Garments, cross country or Nordic skiing is the working person’s sport.
The pros: There’s no feeling like gliding through the forest with nothing but the sound of your own cardiovascular system pounding in your ears – it’s a great workout. While a pass will give you access to great trails at Mount McIntyre, you can also ski for free on nearly any snowy trail, while wearing 40-year-old gear found at the Marsh Lake transfer station.
Furthermore, cross country skiing is the gateway to backcountry skiing, skijoring (dog skiing) and the more extremist biathlon (skiing with munitions).
The cons: Cross country skiing can be a grunt; in some conditions, it is simply not possible to set free the sprightly forest elf within you. As well, if you’ve read Harry Potter, you’ll recall that waxing is considered one of the Dark Arts, and is often regarded as a sport unto itself.
The straight dope: Cross country skiing is a great workout requiring only a modest investment. It might lack thrills and spills, but it’s a lifelong sport that’s good for your muscles, gentle on your joints, and gives you license to wear a fanny pack.
Say hello to Whitehorse’s hottest cold sport. Snowbiking is a kinder, gentler version of mountain biking. Take out the bumpity-bumps and imagine winding your way through a winter wonderland. The benefits: it’s a fantastic workout, loads of fun, and your bike can double as your vehicle.
The cons: fat bikes are dropping in price, but you won’t find them lying around the dump. Snow conditions can be variable, so you might set out for an hour long ride only to find out that deep snow has doubled that time. On the rare occasion that you fall over, it can be spectacular, cold, and might involve a hit to the crotch.
Tell it like it is: If you like riding bikes, you like winter, and can add a bike to your fleet, snowbiking is for you
Admittedly, this is the only winter sport that you can’t actually play outdoors, but as a time-honoured winter activity, it bears consideration.
Curling provides a friendly community loyal to its sport. Curling is social, but even the quiet types can just put their heads down and hurry hard. Other benefits: it’s an equal opportunity sport for men and women, can be played by all ages, and accommodates many abilities with adaptive tools. There is little equipment required — most can be borrowed — and the fees are reasonable.
Furthermore, being an indoor sport, your climate is carefully controlled, and you’ll never have to wee in the woods.
Curling does have some drawbacks. While all that lunging and sweeping is excellent for your health, it won’t give you a sustained workout. For those who like to head out into the vastness of winter as the wind takes you, curling might not be your choice: it generally requires playing at scheduled times in a specific place with a team of reliable and trustworthy individuals, although you can play as a free agent, also called a spare.
Hit me with the low down: Curling is an inclusive, social, and strategic sport. If you like heavy objects, but not necessarily heavy lifting, curling might be for you.
There’s something for everyone under the northern lights. Keep your toes toasty, your head hot and get out there and enjoy some winter.