The 2018 Winter Olympics are in full swing. Which means athletes of all ages and abilities watching from home are getting inspired to turn their dreams of competing for gold into a reality. Or, at the very least, upping their game and testing their athletic prowess.
Even though New Orleans is better suited for Summer Olympic sports, it doesn't mean you can't still train like a Winter Olympian. Well, maybe not just like these elite athletes, but you can attempt to master these sports, or try fun alternatives, either in Louisiana or on your travels.
Even though there isn't much (any?) ice to speak of in New Orleans, these events are probably the easiest to participate in at home. But you still have to travel a little bit for an actual ice rink to try your hand at figure skating, speed skating or ice hockey. Leo's Iceland in Baton Rouge offers ice skating lessons and hockey leagues, while Planet Ice Rink in Lafayette hosts hockey leagues, pickup games, Power Skating lessons and Stick & Puck sessions. The latter's figure skating options include Learn to Skate and Freestyle.
Alternatives: If you only want to travel as far as Metairie, you can trade in your sharp blades for wheels. Considering that inline and roller derby skater Erin Jackson made the U.S. Olympic speed skating team after only four months of practice on the ice, training with Big Easy Rollergirls could be a good place to start your Olympic dreams. The New Orleans roller derby team hosts open workouts and rec leagues throughout the year at their nearby facility. There's also Skater's Paradise in Slidell where you can take beginner and advanced roller skating lessons, as well as learn to roller speed skate.
Travel: If you still don't quite understand what curling is all about, it looks like you'll have to travel outside of the state to learn how to throw stones. The closest cities with curling clubs to New Orleans are Memphis, TN and Houston, TX, but you can find other curling club across the U.S. that you can drop in on while planning your next trip.
You're not going to find much snow in New Orleans, so if you want to hit the slopes you're going to have to visit your cold weather town of choice, but that doesn't mean you still can't train at home.
Alternatives: Though they're not exactly the same thing, water skiing can be a good replacement for snow skiing. For expert tips on the water, head to Bennett's Water Ski & Wakeboard School in Baton Rogue or Cajon X Cable in Lafayette.
You can also practice your snow skiing skills right in your living room with SkiA Ski Trainers or replicate cross-country skiing on dry land with roller skis. To practice the balancing aspect of Olympic winter sports like snowboarding, change things up a bit and take a class at City Surf Fitness or go flyboarding.
Travel: There are a multitude of slopes to hit up across the U.S., but if you aren't a fan of snow seeping into your cold weather outerwear, try sandboarding instead. The sand might still get into places you don't want, but at least it'll be warm. Test out your boarding skills at destinations like Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Mosca, CO or Sand Master Park in Florence, OR.
The best you can probably do to simulate any of the Olympic sliding sports – luge, skeleton, bobsled - in Louisiana is to head to a waterpark and pretend you're gliding down ice instead of water. But you do have other options.
In the gym: You might not find a bobsled in New Orleans, but most Crossfit gyms incorporate pushing sleds, or Prowlers, into their workouts, which is probably the closest you'll get. While there, you can also get in some Olympic lifting, which is part of most sliding athletes workout regimens. In fact, skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender compliments her Olympic training by competing internationally in weightlifting, not to mention track cycling. Running sprints is also a key workout for athletes like Uhlaender, as Ghana's first skeleton athlete Akwasi Frimpong, as well as all members of the Nigerian women's bobsled team started as sprinters.
Travel: There are several cold weather destinations where you can learn how to bobsled or luge, including Whiteface Mountain and Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. However, they are also open in the warmer months for those who want to try their hand at Winter Olympic sports, just not during the winter.
- Lori Wilson