Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 21, 2017
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Cold rush

Looking for something more thrilling than long lift lines and crowded runs at megaresorts? Then go extreme...

Snowfering uses a conventional windsurfing rig and many of the same techniques, but can be easier since you don't have windsurfing's "tipping" to deal with. Thanks to the board's waxed base, you can sail those February snowy fields in pretty light winds, as well as in gales past the 100-kilometre-an-hour mark. Finally something to do in Saskatchewan other than ski across freezing flat plains!

Besides your board, no special equipment is required. To learn more about where and how to snowfer, go to Chepregi's website at www.snowfer.com.

Where greens are white
Take the tamest sport in the world, add a few icebergs, snow blindness, sled-pulling huskies and Drambuie liquor (a sponsor that doesn't freeze) and suddenly you have something that's pretty extreme.

The World Ice Golf Championship is held every year -- unbearably low temperatures permitting -- in the garden capital of Uummannaq, Greenland, where the human and halibut population barely exceeds 2700. We are told from the tourist board that Uummannaq is known for its "stable, dry weather" and that "very dry air and minus 40 to 50 degrees centigrade on some days" make for great golfing conditions. Okay.

As you can imagine, the rules vary from traditional golf: a round is nine holes and players can pick up their ball without penalty and place it within 15 centimetres of the spot where it landed, but no closer to the hole. Balls may be teed on the fairway. Greens are called whites and are marked with red. Golf balls are pink and orange you get the picture. Gloves are absolutely necessary to prevent players' hands from sticking to the clubs. The 2002 Championship will be held March 17 to 22. For more information, go to www.greenland-guide. gl/icegolf/.

Don't test the waters
For the islanders of the St. Lawrence River, a canoe in winter was once a postal, pizza delivery and ambulance service all rolled into one. Today racing the freezing, ice-jammed river has become one of Quebec's favourite winter sports and for the first time, organizers have opened the 2002 Quebec Winter Carnival canoe competition to the public. But only the fittest need apply: the best ice canoeists are between the ages of 35 and 50 and collectively have between 15 to 30 years of experience on the ice! Suffice to say, they know their ice and seaways. Training involves cardio and muscular endurance and team (rowing and trotting) sessions. While most teams began training for the Winter Carnival two to three months ago, someone in peak shape could hit the ice waters for a few practice outings and still make it to the race.

Besides nautical and personal equipment, you'll need a canoe, an experienced captain, four oars(wo)men (there are four members per team, three to paddle and one to steer), a warm place for repairs and a trailer -- most of which can be found with the help of the ACCGQ (Association des coureurs en canot " glace du Québec, which loosely translates to the Quebec Ice Canoe Racers' Association). They can even help you uncover a second-hand canoe. Email the ACCGQ at accgq@videotron.ca or visit their site, www.yachting.qc.ca/canotaglace/. Registration for the Quebec City Carnaval race is open until mid-January. Other races include l'Isle d'Orléans (January 14), Traversée de l'Isle-aux-Coudres (January 25 to 27) and Grand Défi des Glaces (the Great Ice Challenge) in early March.

So extreme you need a license
Skeleton is high-speed sledding done on the same refrigerated tracks as the bobsled and luge. Unlike luging, where you ride feet first, expect to throw all caution to the wind when you do the skeleton. Here your head juts off the front of sled and you ride closer to the ground. Speeds can reach 120 kilometres per hour. It gets even more trying as there's no actual steering mechanism on a skeleton. The only way to control your sled is with subtle shifts of weight. And at these speeds, the slightest head twitch will alter your direction.

The Canadian skeleton headquarters is the Olympic Park in Calgary, where, on your first day, you can lunge head-first from the junior start, reaching a speed of around 60 kilometres an hour. After that, you can sign up for a three-day course leading to a competitive certificate. Once certified, you can launch off the top of the course, going vertical on the walls and real fast on straightaways.

While this may seem a little too extreme, most skeleton sliders will tell you that the experience is too fast and demanding to allow much time for worry. If you're still not convinced, you can watch others push their limits from the safety of an armchair during the 2002 winter Olympics as it's the first time since 1948 that skeleton will be featured as a competitive sport. To reach the Olympic Park in Calgary, call (403) 247-5452.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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