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Extreme sports in winter holidays- trend or risk?

Extreme sports in winter holidays- trend or risk?
Author: Patricia Mutter
1 Commentries
Travelling for sport as well as the concept of sport related tourism has become a significant term in the tourism industry over the last years (Tonge 2007:2-6). Mountain regions offer a wide range of possibilities for activities and are therefore attractive adventure tourism destinations. Further they have a symbolic representation of adventure. They are wild and rough which are often characterised by extreme weather conditions which symbolized objective danger (Beedie and Hudson 2003: 23). During the last few years there is a strong growth of winter sport activities with a high level of risk for the participant. According to the "Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association" since the increase of the snowboarding business alpine skiing has a strong decline (Simpson 2002: 1).
In fact there are developed many new extreme sport activities but there is no strict defined list of sports which belong to the extreme sport market segment. Freestyle skiing and snow biking are some of the new developments in winter sports. The first mentioned sport activity has been developed as a new trend in winter sport. The fun to try new tricks lies in the foreground of this sport. In contrast to the traditional ski sport the athletics drive over mogul fields, jump figures from a ski jump and a half pipe. (Hudson 2003: 73). These sport activity is offered by a variety of tour operators. The tour operators mention on their websites the risk which can occur and recommend wearing helmet and backing projectors to avoid dangerous injuries (Hawkins and Hudman 1989: 34).

There are also world championships in this sport and since 1992 it is a part of Olympic winter games. It is already proved in statistics that many snowboarders changed to freestyle skiing which shows that this sport is not insignificant for the future in winter sports.
Another new sport which has been already discovered the winter sport market is snow biking. This sport is presented in advertisements as more less dangerous than the above mentioned example. Sport tourists cross mountains regions and doing stunts by bike. Particularly this kind of extreme sport is also offered for handicapped people or people with disabilities.
That gives this extreme sport a gentler image because people do not associate handicapped people with extreme sport. Many websites of the tour operators who offer this sport explain the consumer that they have a variety of good trained staff who knows the needs of disabled people (Deville and Loetscher 1987: 9).

All these sports have a high level of danger and involve speed, height and rough places and physical exertion. The athletics has no controlled circumstances because the natural environment in the mountains cannot be controlled. That is significant challenge and obstacle for the athletic.

There are many risks which can occur in such sports but especially that are big motivation factor for sport tourists. The goal of most of the extreme sport tourists or athletics is to experience the personal physical and emotional extend. Furthermore they want to do things what nobody else has done so far. Usually extreme sport athletics are not fearless "go-getter". They are top sportspersons to plump their borders. They can border the risk of their projects with the help of a good preparation regarding weather, team, and equipment (Hall 2007: 11).

Professor Bette (2003) claimed that elements of the motivations of the people are to be contempt for a mass of people, freedom fantasies and the demand to be lonely. Bette adds that the athletics want to be different from the other people in the society. Voluntary self- endangering helps to be different. The reason for it is that healthcare and the contemporary culture of enjoyment play a big role for the "general" people.

In conclusion it can be said that extreme sports are a trend. The changes of the tourist's motivations as well as the strong interest to "excitement" in winter sports have built a way for more innovative forms of winter sports. It was already mentioned above that the improvements in technology enable to create a more security way of doing extreme sports. Risk is still an important criterion for people in choosing winter sport activities but it is not a factor which forces them not doing this kind of sport. All in all it could be said that risk plays not any longer a big influencing role for the consumer like for 10 years. Therefore it can be said that extreme sports will become to an increasing sector in winter sports as well as adventure tourism in general. It is important that people think about the risk before and during doing these kinds of sports.

Tonge, V. (1998) an investigation into the role of ski tourists level of awareness of responsible tourism issues in determining destination choice, graduate research project pp. 2-6.

Hudson, S. (2003) Sport and adventure tourism, New York: the Haworth hospitality press p 73.

Hall, S. (2007) Introducing a risk assessment model for sport venues, The sport journal Vol. 10 (2) p. 3.
Risk and other Motivations in Extreme Winter Sports
Author: Ida Kjellson
I chose this paper to comment on as it's very similar to my own discussion paper about adventure tourism and its relationship with risk. Even though my paper was on general adventure tourism, it's still easy to link this to extreme winter sports and the risks and motivations involved.

It's important to remember that this notion of perceived risk in an adventure or sport activity is very important for some participants. You mention in the paper that snow biking is seen as less dangerous than other extreme winter sports. The thought of danger and risk is important for some people, as for without it the activity would be seen as boring and dull, and unchallenging (Mansfeld 2006: 154). It's possible to put this activity with other 'soft' adventure activities, where there are small risks involved, and where possibly there is little skill needed (Page 2003: 87-88). It is however good to bring this example up as it's more accessible for people with disabilities to take part in. It is however important to have some perceived risk involved as it gives some participants thrill and challenge.

It would have been interesting to see some other motivations concerning extreme winter sports, such as the psychological rewards or motivations. Like you mention, risk is not seen as one of the main motivator. Instead, a number of authors believe that the motivation is more about self-achievement and to discover themselves (Sung 2004). Activities such as extreme winter sports have the ability to show the participants what is truly important and truly meaningful, and that conquering the risk is only something to overcome and this way reach this achievement and notion of finding something meaningful (Holyfield 1999). I think it's good that you mention that risks are not seen as an important motivation for participants, and instead a side effect of the extreme winter sports. I still would have liked to see some more motivations discussed, as it would have given the paper some more depth and given more understanding of why some people take part in extreme winter sports.

I think it's good you mention the tour guides and operators, as they are heavily involved in adventure sports such as this. Kane et al (2004) mention that the guides are needed to guarantee a safe outcome, and that the participants have a high level of trust of the tour guides. The tour guides can often guarantee a safe adventure experience, but it is however important to remember other factors such as a range of natural hazards found in the environment which neither the guides nor the participants have any control over, such as weather (Mansfeld 2006: 155).

To conclude, I believe this is a good paper where winter sports are thoroughly investigated, and it's interesting to see how it has become a trend. It would however been good if more motivations were investigated, but it's good that you conclude that risk is not seen as a main motivator, instead it's something that is a side effect and something the participants can overcome.

Holyfied, L. (1999) Manufacturing Adventure: The Buying and Selling of Emotions, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 28 (3) 3-32.

Kane, M.J., Tucker, H. (2004) Adventure Tourism - the Freedom to Play with Reality, Tourist Studies 4 (3) 217-234.

Mansfeld, Y., Pizam, A. (2006) Tourism, Security & Safety - From Theory to Practice, Oxford: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Page, S.J. (2003) Tourism Management - Managing for Change, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.