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Turkey Bowling and Other Unusual Winter Sports

Communities get creative when it comes to things to do in the cold

By Livability.com on January 21, 2015

Chicago / Courtesy of Chicago Tribune

When it comes to finding ways to keep residents entertained during cold weather months, some communities get creative. Take a look at these wacky winter sports, which certainly draw crowds and most surprising of all, participants. 

Take the Village of Orland Park, I.L. for example. This southern suburb of Chicago recently hosted its 11th Annual Turkey Bowling tournament. What's Turkey Bowling? It's just like regular bowling except instead of a wooden lane, they bowl on an ice rink, wear skates instead of bowling shoes, and use a frozen turkey instead of a ball to knock down pins. And instead of the usual 10 pins, participants try to knock down 15 pins. You can watch people Turkey Bowling (and falling) and get more details about this sport at the Chicago Tribune's website.

Derrick Johnson, a former Los Angeles Rams Cheerleader and Chippendales nightclub dancer claims to have invented the game while stocking frozen turkeys at a supermarket, according to the Chicago Tribune. Orland Park officials aren't sure how or why this wacky event started more than a decade ago, but residents seem to enjoy it. Older bowlers toss a turkey breast, while little tikes throw a Cornish hen.

Hang On

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The town of Wisdom, Mont., hosts one of the more extreme and unusual winter sports in the west. Contestants skilled (and brave/insane) enough to participate in a sport called skijoring will compete for top honors during the Big Hole Valley Winterfest/Skijoring festival on Feb. 22 and 23. As the name sort of implies, skijoring involves people strapping on snow skis and getting pulled by a horse, dog, or motor vehicle. It's derived from the Norwegian word for "ski driving."  

In Wisdom, contestants are pulled by horse over a 900-foot course with eight gates and three 3.5-foot jumps. The race course is set up on Main Street, right in the middle of town. A video of the 2013 Skijoring competition show how wild of a sport skijoring is. The horses don't just trot down the course, they're going full gallop. 

Another Use for Shovels

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On the silly scale is the sport of snow shovel racing, which the city of Angel Fire, N.M. has turned into an annual event. Held at the Angel Fire Resort, shovel racing has courted its share of controversy. On the advice of legal council, the resort halted shovel racing in 2005 when liability concerns were raised after daring and sometimes intoxicated riders rode modified shovels down the ski slopes and reached 70 miles per hour. But racing resumed in 2010, and boy does it draw a crowd. Racing begins Feb. 11 at Angel Fire Resort's 1,500-foot course. Hundreds of spectators and "shovelmeisters," a.k.a. racers, are expected to attend. Experts advise first-timers to never grab the handle of their shovel because it will quickly veer you off course.

The Plunge

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Jumping into icy cold water on a cold winter day has become a tradition for residents of many communities across the country. Most people call this event the Polar Bear Plunge. It simply involves people submerging themselves in frigid water, testing not only their endurance but their nerves. Plunges are held across the country and date back as far as 1904. Among the most famous plunge is the one held every Super Bowl Sunday in Long Beach, N.Y., since 1998. The event draws thousands of people, most of whom jump into the Atlantic Ocean. Many plunges raise money for local charities, giving more motivation to take a cold dip.

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