For the next few weeks, the world’s best winter athletes will gather in Beijing to fly down mountains, navigate hairpin turns on icy tracks, and lift other humans above their heads while balancing on razor-thin blades. And you … will be safely watching from your couch, probably with a beer and a bag of chips. But should you want to try some of these sports for yourself, that can be arranged.
Curling, figure skating, and hockey are all disciplines you can attempt within state borders. And while Texas is conspicuously missing mountains (and meaningful amounts of snow), you only need a couple tanks of gas to work on your alpine skiing and slopestyle tricks.
Below, we’ve collected a handful of options for channeling the Winter Olympics in real life. You’ve got four years to train for the Italy games in 2026, so let’s get started.
Despite our state’s collective inability to handle ice on roads, Texas has a real interest in ice sports. In recent years, skating and hockey have been joined by another Olympic favorite that requires a lot less athleticism: curling. Since curling is significantly more difficult than shuffleboard, local clubs including the Dallas/Ft. Worth Curling Club, the Curling Club of Houston (operational since 1973!) and Curl Austin will show you the ropes (er, stones). Each holds lessons and leagues, but only the latter features ice specifically dedicated to curling and counts 2018 Olympic gold medalist Tyler George as its director of development.
Take a few curling lessons before joining a league, so you know all the proper terms and techniques. You’d hate to show up to your first bonspiel not understanding the difference between the hack and the hog line.
If there’s an ice rink near you, chances are high you can figure skate there. Even the Galleria malls will let you strap on a pair of skates and don your elaborate costume (or jeans) for some open ice time. But if you want to learn a lutz from a salchow and skate with others who share your interest, try joining local clubs in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, or book lessons at the Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center outside of Houston. Each offers coaching for all levels of skaters, from adult amateurs to kids on the competitive circuit. They sometimes bring in ex-pros for training seminars, and you can try multiple disciplines — individual figure skating, pairs, and ice dancing — to help you live out your Olympic dreams.
Snowboarding Slopestyle and Halfpipe
As the closest ski destination to Texas, New Mexico draws hordes of Texans each winter. If you want to practice your skills, Angel Fire Resort has two terrain parks (Sweet Street and Liberation Park) and Taos Ski Valley has the always-fun Maxie’s Terrain Park. Both mountains are a 10-hour drive, or more, depending on where you live, but once you arrive you’ll find rails, boxes, and ramps for catching air.
If you don’t mind a few extra hours in the car (or boarding a flight), Colorado resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone and Winter Park up the ante with more features, including halfpipes and Olympic-size 22-foot superpipes. If you’d like to hit the trampoline or foam pits before dropping into a pipe … you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. And you should check out the Woodward Copper Barn, an indoor training facility at Copper Mountain that lets you learn crucial skills above the comforting embrace of foam before attempting anything that qualifies as death-defying.
Most major cities and larger suburbs have hockey leagues, so it won’t be hard to find a place to play. And, conveniently, many leagues cater to age groups, so you don’t have to chase after 20-somethings if you’re pushing 50. Of course, a league’s only fun if you already know how to skate and play the sport, so newbies should look to take lessons first.
The Dallas Stars Adult Hockey Academy is an NHL-pedigreed program for those who want to learn the game, with drills for skating and stickhandling complemented by controlled scrimmages where you can test out your newfound skills. Houston’s Aerodrome Ice Skating Complex has adult hockey lessons on Sundays, and Austin’s The Pond Hockey Club offers lessons for adults at all skill levels. Pulling your opponent’s jersey over their head is probably not one of the lessons, but it never hurts to ask for pointers.
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