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12 wacky winter sports

blade running on skis

Photo: jacomstephens/iStockphoto

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Speed flying

What do you get when you combine downhill skiing with skydiving? Speed flying. In one of the most extreme sports ever invented, a person is dropped off — typically by helicopter — on top of a mountain where he or she then skis/flies down. If there's a rock or tree in your path, you simply soar over it with the help of your parachute.

Soaring over a snowy landscape may sound serene, but speed flying gets its extreme name for a reason. Riders can reach speeds of almost 100 miles an hour when they fly down crags like Mont Blanc, the highest point in the Alps at 15,800 feet. If you're an adrenaline junkie, this may be the sport for you, but be sure to wear safety gear. Although no one died at the 2010 Swiss Speed Flying Championship, nine people were killed participating in the sport last year — a high number for a sport with only a few hundred participants.