Cabin fever? Perhaps you’d like to try some of the sports that the Winter Olympics has to offer. You’re in luck, as many spots around New England make this possible. But before you think of becoming the next Bode Miller, get a reality check and realize it’s easier said than done.
Know what would make cross-country skiing suck less? Being able to shoot rifles while doing it. Luckily, someone invented the sport of biathlon, in which you cross-country ski to checkpoints and then fire rifles at targets. Massachusetts unfortunately doesn’t have any training facilities for this event, but if you’re itching to try it, Maine is the place to go. 10th Mountain Outdoor Club in Fort Kent, Maine, has 30 shooting stations, beautifully groomed trails, and hosts youth programs, as well. Unfortunately, a membership is required, and while it is free, it’s quite selective, so you may have to know someone. The Maine Winter Sports Center at Presque Isle, however, offers programs and options for biathletes of all ages and skill levels.
Curling is going to be the hippest sport of the 2014 Winter Olympics, calling that one now. Did you know that there are like a ton of places to curl around Boston? Broomstones is an indoor curling club in Wayland that is semi-affordable, and while membership is currently full, the club offers two-hour learn-how-to-curl events early in the season. The Country Club of Chestnut Hill tends to be a high-end exclusive spot for most of the year, but on Monday nights the club opens up its ice to more casual curlers. There are many more clubs scattered throughout Massachusetts, but many are privately run, including an outdoor rink in Walpole called the New Pond Curling Club.
Speed skating is one of those sports that looks incredibly easy when you’re sitting on your ass with a bag of Ruffles and a beer, but if you really think you could be the next Apolo Anton Ohno, start growing out that soul patch and maybe start speed skating, too. Rodman Arena in Walpole hosts a number of different winter sports programs, but also hosts the Baystate Speedskating Club. The club runs training sessions for all skill levels from September through April and even has summer training programs.
|Bobsled and Luge|
Think you could be the next “Cool Runnings”? First, you would kind of have to be Jamaican, but second, you would have to be crazy enough to ride a bobsled. The closest spot to Boston with a bobsled course is Whiteface Mountian at Lake Placid, which isn’t very close, but it does offer a “bobsled experience,” where you can ride a bobsled along with a professional driver and brakeman. Whiteface also hosts luge, but if you’re looking for something closer, we recommend you go to Prospect Hill’s abandoned ski hill in Waltham with a sled, go from the very top, and see if you can handle that first.
If you’re looking for a way to shed off some of that winter weight, cross-country skiing may be your answer. Luckily, there are some spots very close to Boston. The Weston Ski Track, which is essentially at Leo J. Martin golf course, has very affordable trail rates, ski rentals, and offers lessons for both children and adults. Great Brook Ski Touring Center in Carlisle also has great deals and includes some lovely wooded paths.
All the power to anyone who is crazy enough to attempt something like this. If for some God forsaken reason you would like to try ski jumping, the best places around here to do so are the Harris Hill Ski Jump in Brattleboro, Vt., the Salisbury Winter Sports Association in Salisbury, Conn., or the Lebanon Outing Club in Lebanon, N.H. Of course, you can’t really just hop on some skis and go on one of these jumps, though. Many ski areas in New England offer training for ski jumping without going straight to the Olympic-sized level.
Want to be the next Tara Lipinski? Grow out some sweet bangs and hit up just about any local rink. For a bit of instruction, get involved with The Skating Academy at Skating Club of Boston. The organization offers classes at The Frog Pond, as well as rinks in Foxborough and Marlboro, and even hosts summer camp.