It’s very possible the Sochi 2014 Olympics (Feb. 7-23) will whet your whistle to try an esoteric sport the wide world sees only every four years. For some (the face-first skeleton sled), you’d have to travel to former Olympic venues in Park City, UT or Lake Placid, NY. But there are a few local (and nearly local) spots to Olympic it up if you’re game for a quintet of novel endeavors. (If the Summer Games are more your speed, click here for close-to-home sites that let you try sports seen in warmer weather.)
The only sport to render the broom a piece of athletic equipment, curling is hugely popular in icier climes. On Feb. 9 and 16, the Bucks County Curling Club offers a two-part intro-to-curling class at the Bucks County Ice Sports Center in Warminster, PA. Register soon, as inquiries are bound to climb once MSNBC’s 45 hours of curling coverage starts on Feb. 10.
If gliding down a flat slope is old hat, learn to navigate humps and bumps like a pro. The Blue Mountain Ski Area & Resort in Palmerton, PA has a dedicated mogul training area with lift access and starts a weekly specialty course on skiing or snowboarding over moguls on Feb. 9.
Blue Mountain is also the only ski area on the East Coast to host an open-to-the-public USA Luge track. The twisty 2,000-foot-long course is packed with 400,000 cubic feet of snow. The track is open Sat. and Sun., 11am-5pm; three runs cost just $10. Get good, and a USA Luge coach may scout you for the 2018 Olympic team.
Want to shred like Shaun White? The Graffiti Terrain Park at Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville, PA features rails, piles, jumps and an airbag to flop safely in. If you can’t pass a short test to prove you’re able to handle the obstacles, there’s a newbie area with beginner-sized jumps.
Race round a rink at two speedskating clubs that sit on either side of the Delaware Valley: The Garden State Speed Skating Club meets in Morristown, NJ on Monday evenings, while PA’s East Penn Speed Skating Club glides on Sat. in Bethlehem and Sun. in Reading. Skates are available to borrow, but you’ll have to bring your own helmet and pads.