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Not so fast, Jack Frost: How to beat the winter blues

Published: Thursday, Jan. 24 2013 4:00 p.m. MST

For a bonus, Skis.com is offering a $50 gift certificate to anyone who signs up for a beginner lesson this month.

On average, equipment rentals range from $20 to $55 per day, depending on equipment quality and rental locations.

Curling

Curling patrons — a number that spikes every four years during the Olympics before sharply dropping off again — may be seen as participating in a sport that is in the league of so-called non-athletic activities like bowling. However, this game is harder than it looks.

Beginners can attend training sessions where they learn the fundamentals of the sport. Each is required to master the skills of sliding the stone (known as "throwing"), sweeping the brooms and launching out of the hack — a foothold on the ice that is similar to the starting blocks used in track and field.

Ultimately the aim is for the stone to land in the innermost concentric circle in an area on the sheet known as the house. The person launching the stone begins across the ice (called the "sheet") and is required to glide 20 plus feet from the hack to what is called the hog line, the area on the sheet where he releases the stone.

Once the stone is released, team members sweep brooms on the ice and scramble to keep up with the stone's speed, brushing feverishly to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. When the stone needs to pick up speed, they'll hear calls of "Heavy! Harder!" from the team's captain. When the stone needs to slow down, the skip will cry, "Up!" indicating they should cease sweeping.

A curling team consists of a lead, who launches the first two stones; the second, who slides the third and fourth; the vice skip — or assistant team captain — who throws the fifth and sixth stones; and the skip — or team captain — who throws the final two stones.

Each team takes turns sliding their respective stones. The skip for each team stands in the house and holds their broom over the area where the stone should land, and coaches the sweeping of his team members. When it is the skip's turn to throw, the vice skip takes over the skip's responsibilities.

Thought this ice sport was only for Wii users and citizens of Canada? Think again. This sport of brushes and stones can be found in your backyard and for affordable prices. Find one of dozens of curling clubs nationwide.

Snowshoeing

This sport offers fun for the whole family with the bonus that it can be done in your backyard.

Snowshoeing offers an easy segue into winter activities. It's relatively inexpensive. Rentals range from $15-$30 per day at sporting goods stores. Once you bundle up, strap on your snowshoes and pick a trail, you're good to go. The shoes are generally lightweight and at times you feel as if you have nothing on your feet. The wide surface area of the shoes allows you to feel as if you're floating on the harder snow and is ideal for cruising through fresh powder.

All skill levels can participate in this sport, and given the activity's inherent lack of structure, it can be taken at any pace. Those looking for a leisurely winter stroll can snowshoe in their local park, while those looking to break a sweat can pick a mountain trail.

For more information on snowshoeing, visit trails.com.

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