Discover Germany, Issue 33, December 2015

Page 103

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Page 103

Discover Germany | Feature | Adrenaline-boosting winter sports

at the Mörlialp south of Lucerne. Here the race starts late, at 4pm, and lasts well into Descending on a sledge in nothing but underwear To those who wish to opt for something even more daring, further north is the place to go. In the Harz Mountains a private radio broadcaster initiated a nudist sledge race a few years ago. Participants wearing only their underwear raced down a hill in Braunlage during the ‘Nacktrodel’ world championship. In 2012 more than 25,000 spectators came – too many for the location, so in 2013 the organisers moved the race to better-suited Altenberg. In early 2015 the competition was held in a theme park near Leipzig and the details for 2016 are yet to be announced. Swimming in an ice-cold sea on New Year’s Day If tobogganing naked is not enough to feel the cold, heading to the North Sea Coast on NewYear’s day offers more freezing excitement. Along the coastline eager swimmers jump into the ice-cold North Sea. From Büsum to Sylt, from Butjadingen to Norderney, swimmers face temperatures often sub-zero degrees. The tradition has its ori-

gins in the neighbouring Netherlands where the Nieuwjaarsduik was first celebrated in 1960 on Zandvoort beach. The idea spread over the whole coastline – the Netherlands and Germany. And while swimmers take the icy plunge, many spectators celebrate the event, cheering from the dry shore. Beach sailing and driving kite buggies As soon as the temperatures plummet in autumn and the winds get strong enough at the North Sea Coast, beach sailors and kite buggy drivers are conquering the coastline. Beach sailors race a waggon at up to 130 kilometres per hour over the sand. The sport has a long tradition in Europe dating back to the 1600s when sand yachts were used to transport goods. A variation, the kite buggy, also uses wind power: but here a kite is let up high into the air, catching the wind and forcing the waggon and its driver into motion. First introduced in New Zealand in the 1980s, it was imported to Germany in the 1990s. Often enough a licence is needed for beach sailing or handling a kite buggy in Germany – a certificate that can be attained in a course at local sailing schools.

way are allowed to participate, they have to be fabricated mainly from wood, only the metal fittings, vats and the lower parts of the ‘Tatzen’ – the brakes – can be made from metal. Plastic or similar materials are strictly forbidden. There are even exact measurements that have to be kept. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is not the only place where spectators can enjoy the excitement of a high-speed sledge race. Other regions, such as Oberwiesenthal in the Erzgebirge, as well as in Brotterode in the Free State of Thuringia also has its own race. In Switzerland, a Hornschlitten race is held for the third time on 13 February 2016

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