What are the most extreme winter motorsports on the planet? And why do people participate? Some want to win a race, some want the fame and glory, but most everyone loves the rush they get from these extreme sports. Each of the three sports below might be fun to watch from a distance, but terrifying to participate in. Read on to find out what these crazy sports are and what makes them so dangerous.
The Iron Dog Race
The Iron Dog race is the world’s longest, toughest snowmobile race. The race lasts five days and covers 2,000 miles across Alaska, starting in Big Lake with a halfway stop in Nome and finishing in Fairbainks. That’s 400 miles a day! Due to the treacherous conditions, riders must take breaks of at least 6 hours and a minimum of 36 hours over the course of the five days. Some of the best riders do 12 hours of non-stop riding with very little food and water, letting others break the trail, which uses up the most fuel and makes for slower riding.
So what makes the Iron Dog race so frightening? Temperatures reach -57 degrees Fahrenheit and racers claim it can get even colder in the valleys and river basins. The unannounced snow storms and wind chill make it feel like the weather is in the negative triple digits! Many of the natural factors at play, such as the extreme conditions, wild terrain and fast speeds, also contribute to the dangerous and life threatening nature of this race.
Thankfully, there have never been any deaths in this race, but there’s never a scarcity of injuries. Sprained and broken bones are common, but the worst of it comes in the form of dehydration and frostbite.
Here is an example of what the Iron Dog Race looks like first hand:
The next extreme winter motorsport is called Snocross, where the vehicle looks like a motorcycle with a sled instead of a front tire. Riders race on these high performance vehicles that can go up to 60 miles per hour and are made to ride on snow tracks. The motocross-like courses involve obstacles, banked corners, tight turns and steep jumps (30 feet tall), which let riders travel up to 130 feet in the air!
Although Snocross tracks are much shorter than the Iron Dog race, it has proven to be more dangerous. Minor injuries include broken collarbones and ribs, and multiple riders have had legs amputated due to accidents. But these riders are fearless, and they now ride with prosthetic legs. Snocross is currently an event at the Winter X Games; however, various Snocross competitions take place across the world.
This video gives a great depiction of what a Snocross race typically looks like:
Snowmobile Freestyle Competitions
Finally, we get to the popular snowmobile freestyle competition, which is another event showcased at the X Games. And, this sport is surely the most dangerous of them all. In this sport, athletes perform insane tricks after jumping off 70-foot ramps. Some of these include backward and forward flips, twists and turns, which means they have to nearly let go in midair to complete these tricks.
With all the tricks, there have been some very serious accidents. In 2013, Caleb Moore was severely injured doing a trick at the X games and died a few days later. His younger brother, Colten, was injured the same day, but recovered and won gold in the 2014 event.
Check out the video of Colten honoring his brother by performing a similar trick. Unbelievable.
These are the three most extreme winter motorsports, and they aren’t for the feint of heart. And if you’re like me and were on the edge of your seat simply watching the videos, can you imagine actually competing in these sports?