The Sochi 2014 Olympics may be over but the 2014 Paralympics is 8 days away! I highly encourage all of you to cheer on your athletes during the 9-day event. You will be blown away. These athletes deserve your support.
In the meantime, here are some winter activities around or just outside of Vancouver that you can try to see what the Olympians and Paralympians do. 🙂 Plus, you get to enjoy nature and get a good exercise.
- Biathlon – Whistler Olympic Park
Turns out you can also participate in biathlons throughout the year. During summer (June-August), you can experience it for about 10 minutes for $10. During winter (December-March), depending on the level of cross-country skiing, you can take lessons for $65.
- Bobsleigh – Whistler Sliding Centre
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you can go bobsleighing without being pro. You won’t be pushing the heavy sleigh, nor will you be driving, but you’ll get to feel what it’s like going down the Whistler Sliding Centre. I’m mad for finding this tempting because I’m sure I would have a heart attack in the middle of the ride. Cost is $169 + tax.
- Cross-Country Skiing – Cypress Mountain
A work-out on snow! Cypress’ Cross-Country and Snowshoeing zone is mostly hilly rather than flat. I thought it would be easier than downhill skiing and would be as effortless as ice skating but I could not be further from the truth. Many cross-country skiers were in the French fries pose but I found that I had to be in the V form most of the time (sorry, I really don’t know how to talk about sporty activities). I fell a lot and the bunny hills were enough to upset me. I don’t think I’ll be doing cross-country again. Total cost (incl. skis and poles) comes to around $36 for 3PM onwards (until 9:30PM I think) or $42 for the day. Wear waterproof snow trousers and jacket (no longer than your derierre because you need to be able to move and make a fairly wide V). You will also sweat a lot so something breathable would be nice.
- Curling – Richmond Curling Club
Gather your family and/or friends for a fun morning/afternoon/evening of curling. It looked pretty easy on the television but goodness, we never expected the rocks to be so heavy nor how easy it was to find ourselves being curled away! You’ll want to be dressed warmly but have the ability to move so no puffy jackets. A stable pair of shoes is a necessity too – after all, you’re on ice. (I ended up borrowing a pair of shoes because mine were no good.) Brooms can be rented from the RCC.
- Downhill Skiing – Grouse, Seymour, Cypress, Whistler-Blackcomb, etc.
I honestly had no idea how terrified of heights I was until I got to the top of Blackcomb. I tried my best to do the pizza but I couldn’t handle the speed so I decided to fall on the snow rather than ski off a cliff. My coach ended up taking me all the way down. I haven’t skied since. Supposedly, Grouse has a bunny hill that would be great for those who would rather avoid heights. I’m not sure if I would be able to handle it either. I don’t remember the cost of the lessons plus ski rentals and all-day pass but I think it came close to or was over $100. Of course, warm and waterproof clothing is essential.
- Ice Hockey – any community centre ice rink, some schools, Richmond Olympic Oval
There are many lessons and clubs available for children, youth, and adults. I can’t skate on hockey skates nor do I think I’d last very long with a flying puck.
- Ice Skating – any community centre ice rink, Robson Square, Grouse, Richmond Olympic Oval
Granted, it’s figure skating or speed skating you’re watching during the Winter Games and not people recreationally skating in circles. You can take figure skating lessons at community centre ice rinks at affordable prices. It’s definitely worth buying your own pair of ice skates (I got mine at Canadian Tire), especially if you think you’ll be skating a few times a year. Community centre ice rinks also has loonie/toonie skate days but the times might not work out for everyone. Robson Square’s rink is outdoors but covered. Grouse’s rink is outdoors (and bumpy, I’m told).
- Ice Sledge [Hockey] – Hillcrest Community Centre Ice Rink
I think ice-sledge racing would be such a fun activity and event to watch! When I was a Vancouver 2010 Paralympics volunteer for ice sledge hockey, we had the opportunity to try ice sledge ‘skating’. Technically, it was ice sledge hockey but I don’t think any of us could send a puck into a goal without tipping over first. You’re bound on the sledge (so you don’t fall out of it) and you navigate your way around the rink with two mini hockey sticks, both of which have sharp picks at the end. My helmet was too big on me so I was blind half the time. I’m not sure if Hillcrest offers ice sledge hockey classes for youth only but I think it would be great if I could try it once more. 🙂
- Snowboarding – Grouse, Seymour, Cypress, Whistler-Blackcomb, etc.
Since I can hardly survive on skis, I highly doubt I’d do well on a snowboard. I can’t imagine my feet being ‘glued’ to a board. Also, there’s the acrophobia problem.
- Speed skating – Richmond Rockets Speed Skating Club (Richmond Olympic Oval), Vancouver Speed Skating Club (Kitsilano Comm. Ctr Ice Rink), BC Speed Skating
Didn’t realise that there are quite a few speed skating clubs around Vancouver. Personally, the blades frighten me so I don’t think I’ll be trying this activity.
Here are some non-Olympic/Paralympic activities:
- Snowshoeing – Grouse, Seymour, Cypress
This is a good work-out if you want to enjoy the snowy scenery of the mountains. Seymour has a free path and a beautiful view. It is cheaper to rent your snowshoes at MEC or to borrow them for a friend or acquaintance. I wore my wellies and dug my heels every time I took a step. Seemed to work out pretty well.
- Tobogganing – Seymour, Cypress
This is the one activity I hope to try. I missed my chance on cafeteria trays in Ontario. I missed my chance at Seymour (tobogganing ends earlier during the day than tubing). That’s all I can say for now!
- Tubing – Seymour, Cypress
Go on your belly or your back and let the tube take you down the hill. The one at Cypress looks much safer than the one at Seymour. There were a few times when I thought I would go past the large sand bags and over the cliff. If you go on your belly, you might want to pad your knees because I ended up with many bruises.