Every four years, folks around the world delight in the competition and awe-inspiring athleticism of the Winter Olympics. From riding the luge to playing hockey to skiing to participating in a biathlon to curling, there’s a sport that captures the attention of even the most casual sports fans.
If you live in Michigan and waiting for the Winter Olympics, there are numerous places you can go to watch or actively participate in the Olympic sports. Whether you’re an expert skier or you’ve always wanted to try curling, here are some places you can go to try Olympic sports in Michigan.
Feel the Excitement of Downhill Skiing
In wintertime, with plenty of snow on the ground, there is no shortage of opportunities for skiing. There are lots of great ski resorts that offer some of the best skiing you’re likely to find anywhere.
In fact, there are more than 40 ski resorts in Michigan, featuring more than 1,000 runs and 250 terrain parks.
Downhill Skiing in the Upper Peninsula
If you want to participate in Alpine skiing like the Olympians do, start in the Upper Peninsula, which gets more than 250 inches of snow annually.
Mount Bohemia in Mohawk has more than 500 acres of terrain and offers a 900-foot vertical drop if you’re looking for some extreme skiing. Head over to Bessemer too, where you’ll find multiple resorts with a variety of hills ranging from beginner to advanced.
Alpine Skiing Everywhere
No matter where you’re at in Michigan, you’re probably not far from a ski resort. So grab your equipment, and head to the slopes for a day or weekend of fun.
Even if you’re a beginner, you’ll be able to pick up knowledge that you can use on future ski trips. Just have patience, and enjoy the experience.
Enjoy the Scenery While Cross Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing has been a part of the Olympics since the very first Winter Olympics in 1924. In Michigan, as with downhill skiing, you’ll find beautifully groomed cross country ski trails no matter where you go.
If you search for “cross country skiing near me” you’re likely no more than an hour away from a trail. Not only is this a great way to stay in shape, but it’s one of the best ways to take in the beauty of Michigan in winter.
Nordic Skiing in the Upper Peninsula
If you’re really looking for some unique trails, check out the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, where you can trek along Lake Superior. Go skiing on Mackinac Island, which you get to by a special ferry from November to April.
Lower Peninsula Cross Country Skiing
The possibilities are endless. Like downhill skiing, there are many places with a wide range of beginner and advanced trails.
Head to an Indoor or Outdoor Rink for Ice Skating
Ice skating is often one of the most popular parts of the Winter Olympics and one of the best activities to do in Michigan during the winter. What’s better is that it’s an activity for residents and visitors of all ages.
Whether you want the comfort of an indoor rink or the experience of an outdoor rink, you’re sure to find a place for recreational or figure skating no matter where you go.
Upper Peninsula Ice Skating Rinks
In the Upper Peninsula, you can try outdoor skating at Royce Park in Escanaba, where you can skate while music plays on a PA system. You can skate for free and keep warm by the warming station.
Ice Skating in the Lower Peninsula
Also, check out Petoskey Winter Sports Park, where there’s a rink for open skating, a warming house with concessions, and a weekend bonfire. In downtown Grand Rapids, stop by Rosa Parks Circle, where fiber optic lights underneath the ice offer a truly magical experience.
In downtown Detroit, go skating at Campus Martius Park. Here, you can skate outdoors against a wonderful backdrop. Plus, you’re surrounded by great dining options.
Get Winter Olympics Competitive at a Curling Club
Curling — a sport involving sweeping ice as a heavy, polished rock slides toward a target — has long held the attention of Canadians. But all across Michigan, you can watch and participate in the sport.
On both of Michigan’s peninsula’s, you’ll find curling clubs, many of which offer “Learn to Curl” lessons. If you’re interested in learning about or watching curling, you probably aren’t too far from a club. Start in Metro Detroit and work your way up.
Lower Peninsula Curling Clubs
You’ll find the Detroit Curling Club, Greater Midland Curling Club, Kalamazoo Curling Club, and the Lansing Curling Club in Central Michigan, among others. Upon entering Northern Michigan, you can check out the Traverse City Curling Club or the Lewiston Curling Club.
Curling Clubs in the Upper Peninsula
Feel the Exhilaration of Flying Down a Luge Track
There’s nothing quite like spending an afternoon sledding, tobogganing, or snow tubing on a winter’s day in Michigan. But if you’re looking for an Olympic-type experience, you have to stop by the Muskegon Winter Luge & Sports Complex.
It’s one of only four publicly assessable luge tracks in the nation and features an 850-foot track that was designed by an Olympian. If you’re looking for a thrill, which includes sledding at speeds of up to 30 mph, this is the place to be.
The park traditionally hosts weekly luge events. You can even participate in a Learn to Luge program during the weekends.
Slam the Puck in a Game of Hockey
No matter where you go in Michigan, hockey fever runs rampant during the winter months. The Winter Olympics period is no exception.
With NHL athletes traditionally participating in the Olympics, fans get to watch their favorite players compete for Olympic gold. In Michigan, Olympic hockey is traditionally played on a bigger (15 feet wider) sheet of ice. Such a hockey rink can be found at Big Bear Arena in Sault Ste Marie.
Take Ice Skating to the Next Level With Speed Skating
If you’re looking to experience the exhilaration of this skating sport, there are clubs in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Midland, Petoskey, and Ann Arbor.
The Wolverine Sports Club in Ann Arbor has had track speed skating as a part of its club since the 1950s. The club has even produced some of the sport’s finest athletes, including several Olympians.
Get a Thrill While Snowboarding on Michigan Trails
Just as there’s no shortage of skiing hills and Nordic ski trails in the Mitten, the state is home to lots of snowboarding trails. Snowboarding is a newer Winter Olympics sport, but has caught on in popularity.
Snowboarding in the Lower Peninsula
On the west side of Michigan, Muskegon is the birthplace of snowboarding. American athletes from the state have competed in the event at the Olympics too.
On top of that, many of Michigan’s famous ski resorts, such as Boyne Highlands and Caberfae Peaks, also offer snowboarding areas to try out new tricks.
Upper Peninsula Snowboarding
For more extreme snowboarding, head up to Mount Bohemia in the Upper Peninsula. Here, you can test your mettle on the 900-foot vertical drop.
Test Your Skiing & Shooting Abilities in a Biathlon
Believe it or not, there are several places where you can watch and participate in a biathlon — a sport that combines skiing and target shooting. In February, check out the Airsoft Biathlon in Crystal Mountain. For just $25, you can participate and rent all the necessary equipment.
You can find out more about biathlon through the Michigan Biathlon Association in Michigan. Additionally, clubs around the state, like the Washtenaw Sportman’s Club near Ann Arbor, offer a chance to learn the sport.
Learn What It’s Like to Do Olympic Training
Believe it or not, Michigan is home to the U.S. Olympic Education Center, which is located at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. With more than 100 coaches and resident athletes, this center is actually the second biggest Olympic training center in the U.S.
Sports that athletes train for here include ski jumping and the biathlon. In preparation for past Winter Olympic Games, athletes have also trained in Gaylord on a halfpipe for snowboarding.
Experience the Michigan Winter Like an Olympian
If you’re a big fan of the Winter Olympics, you don’t have to go very far in Michigan to experience your own taste of the featured sports. Whether you’re braving the cold and snow of the Upper Peninsula or trekking through the Lower Peninsula, the right facilities are nearby.
You may find that a trip to a curling club or cross-country skiing in Michigan sparks a new interest in those activities. Then, you can visit other places to experience all the best winter things to do in Michigan.