Cricket in the Alps? Golf in Greenland? Metres of snow can’t stop these sports fans!
There are enough winter sports out there to fill up anyone’s calendar, from skiing and snowboarding to ice-skating and the luge. But some people just have to go off piste when it comes to games. You may have thought you could only enjoy these sports under a summer sun, but they also flourish in the snow.
On of the world’s most famous sports on snow, White Turf is an international horse-racing event held annually in St. Moritz since 1907. The three-day programme includes flat racing, trotting and skijoring (horse-drawn skiing), and attracts a glamorous international crowd that includes both the horsey set and the jet set.
Cricket On Ice
St. Moritz is also home to another annual competition, albeit one slightly less glamorous – Cricket On Ice. The tournament started in 1988 when British visitors to St. Moritz convinced the town to agree to let them play a match on a nearby lake. Today, a few teams play every February, mostly made up of Old Boys from Highgate School and Swiss boarding school teams. Play is somewhat less than regular, with an orange rubber ball, and snow can sometimes obscure the boundaries. Each match lasts about three hours, and it can get cold for a spectator standing on a snowy field in the middle of winter. It’s probably not why Winter Pimms was invented, but British sporting spirit is usually in abundance.
Both pros and amateurs turn up to play at one of the world’s most unusual courses on the Greenland ice sheet. Every March, the World Ice Golf Championship is held inside the Arctic Circle, near the town of Uummannaq. Started by a local hotelier, there is also an ice golf school held the weekend before the event. In the vast polar whiteness, the course is laid out on the fjord ice, about a week before the event begins. There are nine holes whose positions are dictated by the location of the icebergs. Here, the green is white, the balls are red, and icebergs are the new sand traps. Up to 36 golfers from Europe and the USA play in temperatures that can go as low as -25 Celsius, and of course, conditions are affected by the powder, thickness of the ice, and probably the most interestingly, seal holes.
The Snow Golf World Championship held in Obertauern in Austria, has nine holes played on a course with “snow ways” instead of fairways and “whites” instead of greens. Argentina also recently launched its own winter golf competition, the Snow Golf Championships Argentina.