Appleton offers Olympic winter sports and activites

Feat_OlympicsThe 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are about to begin! Imbued with the Olympic Spirit, many readers may find themselves eager to attempt the many thrilling events found within this international competition. Luckily, the cold, wintry weather of northeast Wisconsin provides ample opportunities for you to try many of these sports out for yourself.

Alpine skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts are probably well aware of ORC’s weekly Wednesday trips to Granite Peak, but those seeking to try these sports out for the first time should not be intimidated, especially by the cost — free for skiers and only $10 for snowboarders. Spots on these trips fill up nearly a week in advance, so be sure to contact trip leaders at ORC early. For skiers who are looking for more of an aerobic workout, the cross country ski team’s season is in full swing, but newcomers can still join in. Contact the team captain, sophomore Liam Hoy, for more information. Think cross country skiing is fun, but looking for more excitement? Try adding a bang with biathlon, an event that combines cross country skiing and rifle shooting. A combination ski course and rifle range cannot be found in the local area, so practicing each event separately will have to do.

Curling is quickly becoming one of the most popular spectator events at the Winter Olympics, but Appleton Curling Club (307 Westhill Blvd.) is offering the opportunity for readers to try the sport out for themselves. “Learn to Curl” leagues with no experience necessary are starting Tuesday, Feb. 25, and registration is only $50 a team for a full month season. Games are Tuesday or Friday evenings. Contact for more information.

Figure skating and hockey are always crowd-pleasers at the Olympics, so those who would like to tie up some skates themselves and test things out should head over to the Appleton Family Ice Center (1717 E Witzke Boulevard). Free skate times are from 11:00 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., Monday through Friday, with an additional free skate on Sundays from 3:00 p.m. to 4:50 p.m. The cost for free skating is $3.00 for admission and $2.00 for skate rental.

Speed skating enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the nation’s home for speed skating is only two hours away at the Petit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, Wis. This rink is home to nearly all of the US premier speed skaters; however, getting lessons in speed skating may be a bit pricey.

Those looking to try bobsled, luge or skeleton events are pretty much out of luck — the only US courses for these events are found at the former Olympic sites in Salt Lake City, Utah and Lake Placid, N.Y. Then again, maybe it’s better if everyone passes on trying to emulate the athletes in three of the world’s most dangerous sports. Go grab a toboggan and head off to one of Appleton’s many sledding hills, such as Pierce or Erb Park.  Whatever gets you excited, be sure to take advantage of wintry Wisconsin’s great outdoors before all the snow melts your Olympic aspirations!