Winter-sports enthusiasts live for the cold. Nothing energizes a skier or snowmobiler like a foot of fresh powder, and skaters and ice-fishing fanatics relish day after day of subfreezing temperatures. Everyone else just needs to wait for the thaw. Or do they? Increasingly, winter resort towns are adding activities typically associated with sun, sand, and grass to appease nonskiers. "As only about half of our guests ski, it is important to have enough offers to make sure everyone is happy, especially for families where people have different interests," says Sara Roloff of the Engadin St-Moritz tourism office.
To that end, St-Moritz offers winter polo matches featuring rugged horses and players chasing balls across the snow during a four-day tournament beginning Jan. 28 on frozen Lake St-Moritz. Equestrian fans may prefer watching the horse-jumping in snow, or even the thoroughbred racing. There's also winter golf, where guests play nine holes on snowy plots of land using easier-to-find oversize red balls and larger-than-normal holes. The "fairways" are groomed snow and the rough is fluffy powder. In addition to the St-Moritz center course, Switzerland offers winter golf in Sils, Zuoz, and Samedan. For the more traditional tourist, there's always exclusive shopping or the new three-man Olympia Bob Run, the only natural-ice bobsled run in the world where guests can hit 5 G-force during parts of the 75second ride.
Duffers looking for a new challenge can sign up for the 17th annual ice-golf tournament on Lake Weissensee in Carinthia, Austria. All golfers must have a confirmed handicap of 45 or less to play the 18-hole course. To prevent balls from rolling, the "whites" are covered with a thin layer of compressed snow. "It's also possible for the general public to play ice golf for free before and after the tournament," says Arno Kronhofer, manager of Weissensee tourism.
Parents with teenagers at the resort town of Chamonix, France, can leave siblings to battle out their aggressions by signing them up for winter paintball, a sport where participants eliminate opponents by shooting them with pellets of colorful paint in the snow. The concierge at the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa in Interlaken, Switzerland, can arrange for a bird's-eye view of the country with winter skydiving. The truly intrepid—or insane—can try the extreme sport of Zorb globe riding, which involves climbing inside an inflatable, transparent plastic ball and rolling down steep hills and across snowy meadows.
Sometimes even avid skiers are forced into participating in other activities. One day last season, all 32,000 beds in the ski village of Åre, Sweden, were filled, and the maximum number of lift tickets—17,000—had been sold. "It meant that there were 15,000 guests who couldn't ski," says Tony Wallace, the head of the local adventure company Camp Åre. What to do? Lucky for those without lift tickets, Camp Åre offers a sports-car driving course on a frozen lake, where guests can test out a Porsche or a Lamborghini; caving inside a natural cave or old copper mines; and Europe's longest zip line, which lets riders top speeds of 113kph while dangling 64 meters above a snow-capped forest. Double black-diamond skiers have nothing on them.