The 6 most popular alternative winter sports activities

Two skiers go on a ski tour.

Winter sports are constantly evolving and new sports activities are regularly being created. The CheckYeti team has taken a closer look at this winter’s most popular winter sports trends, to make sure your next holiday in the snow is an unforgettable experience:

Freeriding: off-piste deep snow fun

Freeriding is a style of skiing or snowboarding that is practised off-piste on natural and ungroomed terrain. In order to get to the starting point, you can either use the ski lift or climb up the mountain with the help of ski touring skis.There is no other winter sport that lets you immerse yourself into nature as much as freeriding. Far away from highly frequented slopes, freeriders glide through deep snow on untouched slopes whilst enjoying unique views over the surrounding mountain landscapes. One of Europe’s most popular freeride destinations is the ski resort Skicircus Fieberbrun, which is also one of the venues of the annual Freeride World Tour.

Due to the truly unspoilt character of the slopes, weather and snow conditions have to be taken into special consideration when freeriding. Therefore, it is very important to be accompanied by a professional guide who knows the skiing area inside out and who is able to correctly assess the weather conditions before and during the tour. An introductory avalanche course is also highly recommended for beginners.

Off-piste skiing requires a special skiing technique in order to master the deep snow. Various ski schools offer freeride lessons for beginners and advanced freerider.

CheckYeti tip: On CheckYeti you can find classic ski lessons as well as professional freeride tours. For those looking for a true freeride expert, the former deep snow world champion Toni Zangerle, director of the Skischule A-Z at Arlberg, is the right choice.

Snow biking: somewhere between cycling and skiing

Snowbikers on snowy slopes.
.Caption: Snowbiking is ideal for those looking to try something completely different © Schischule Koch

The snowbike – a cross between a bicycle and skis – guarantees pure fun and a unique skiing experience on the slope. Snowbikes can be used on groomed slopes as well as on powder snow and riders navigate the slopes with the additional help of short foot skis. As snowbikes can be ridden without the rider having had previous experience, this sport is suitable for anyone who is looking for an exciting new winter activity.

The best introduction to riding a snowbike is to join a snowbike tour. After the gear and handling are explained, the group will start to explore the area together. The tour price usually includes equipment hire plus guidance, and snowbiking is suitable for all snow fans from the age of 6yrs

CheckYeti tip: The ski school Koch in Obertauern offers special snowbike tours for children as well as evening snowbike tours:

Ski touring: reach the peak using only your own body strength

3 people on a ski tour are walking through a snow-covered environment.
A ski tour led by a professional guide is a unique and challenging experience

A ski tour is basically a mountain hike on skis. In order to reach the summit, you don’t use the ski lifts, but the strength of your own body. Special touring skis and special bindings help you to get to the top of the mountain.

A ski tour lets  you experience a skiing area from a completely different perspective. Many sports enthusiasts have become more and more interested in exploring nature during their winter holidays, and so ski tours have become increasingly popular.

However, a ski tour on high mountain terrain requires the right equipment and the necessary know-how. Many ski schools now offer guided ski tours, enabling even beginners to enjoy this amazing experience. The Kitzbühel area is particularly ideal for an unforgettable ski tour.

Fat biking: cycling through the snow

Cyclists riding through the snow on fatbikes in the mountains.
A fat bike makes it possible to cycle through the snow

Unlike a regular mountain bike, a fat bike can also be used at snowy conditions, thanks to its extra thick tyres. Fat bikes are also available as e-bikes and fat biking is becoming more and more popular as a winter sport, many ski resorts now offering them for hire.

If you want to take a short break from skiing during your holiday and want to try out something new, why not try fat biking? The fat bike works best on straight runs with firm snow, such as on winter hiking trails. After a short introduction, a tour usually lasts around 2hrs and includes a break at a typical mountain hut. The tour price generally includes the bike rental plus a tour guide.

CheckYeti tip: The ski school Sport am Jet offers guided fat bike tours through the winter landscape in Flachau, Salzburg.

Snowshoeing: enjoying the snow at a different pace

5 people during a snowshoeing trip in the sunshine.
Snowshoeing is a great activity for beginners to advanced skiers © Tine Photography

Snowshoeing is the perfect activity for those who want to explore the untouched winter landscape far away from groomed pistes and ski lifts. The snowshoes distribute the weight of the person carrying them over a larger area so that the feet only sink lightly into the snow. Handling snowshoes is easy and does not require any previous experience: Simply fasten your snowshoes under your winter boots, pick up your sticks and off you go!

The gentle cardio exercise enhances the blood circulation and is an ideal alternative to ski tours. Snowshoeing is perfect for all those who prefer to take it easy but still want to try something new.

Various resorts in Switzerland provide snowshoeing opportunities: In Interlaken, 3hrs or 5hrs tours are available and the resort additionally offers many other snowsport alternatives to skiing:

Snowtubing: fast fun for the whole family

2 people snowtubing in the sunshine in the Zillertal Arena.
Snowtubing is a fun activity for the entire family © Zillertal Arena

Snow tubing is an activity for winter fans of all ages and involves sliding down a snow tubing slope or track in a huge rubber tire. Snow tubing has become more and more popular in recent years and special snow tubing tracks can now be found in numerous ski resorts.

Snow tubing tracks are often located close to a ski lift. This gives the tuber the opportunity to immediately go back up the mountain after the ride. In most cases, the snowtubing run is also open after the end of the normal ski operation, which is why the activity is the perfect and fun end to a day of skiing.

CheckYeti tip: In many ski areas, the use of the snowtubing track is even free of charge – for example in Gerlosstein in the Zillertal Arena.

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    Sandra von CheckYeti

    I absolutely love the winter months. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than spending hours in the snow – it’s no surprise that skiing is my favourite winter activity!

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