You’ve got to do something before the kick-off in Tampa, so we give you the best options for partying, snowboarding, skiing, and running before settling in front of a big screen and stuffing your face with far too many pigs-in-a-blanket.
You’ve got to do something before the kick-off in Tampa, so we give you the best options for partying, snowboarding, skiing, and running… before settling in front of a big screen and stuffing your face with far too many pigs-in-blankets.
By Katie Rogers and Cannon Kinnard
North Face Masters of Snowboarding Tour, January 29 – February 1
Snowbird Mountain Resort, Utah
This winter has been good to Utah. In places, there’s 40-foot snowpack and the Snowbird Mountain Resort has had some of its biggest powder days in years, making this year’s annual North Face Masters event, which invites all snowboarders over the age of 18 to pipe after $45,000 in prizes, one of the most anticipated ever. Though the maniac-psychos will be ripping it up in the competition area, the rest of the resort will be open to all visitors (thenorthfacemasters.com).
Accommodations and Travel: Become a rabid member of the spectator pack and go for the special Winter Weekend Package, which includes three nights of lodging and two days of Snowbird Tram and chairlift tickets ($179 per person; snowbird.com). Round trip ground transfers to and from Salt Lake City International Airport are an added plus.
Carnival de Quebec, January 30 – February 15
Quebec City, Canada
Want to be prepared for when your dogsled breaks through the ice on your next South Pole trek? Then test your cold water endurance with The Bay Snow Bath, with 80 other brave souls diving multiple times into the frigid Canadian drink. Billed the Largest Winter Carnival in the World, the Carnival de Quebec begins on Friday night and slogs on for 17 days of frosty celebration. Night Parades and Ice Palace dance parties raise blood temperatures when the sun goes down, and the legendary St. Lawrence River Canoe Race will keep even the most active revelers sweating through their thermals (carnaval.qc.ca).
Accommodations and Travel: The carnival’s website is pretty comprehensive; if you’re not fluent in French, pull transportation advice in English at carnaval.qc.ca/transportation. For special lodging deals see carnaval.qc.ca/packages.
45th Annual Mardi Gras Marathon, February 1
New Orleans, Louisiana
Kick off Mardi Gras early this year and take part in the 45th Annual Mardi Gras marathon, half-marathon, and 5K. Race down Bourbon Street and through New Orleans’s Audubon and City Park. The race finishes at the Louisiana Superdome, so along with exercise you get the perfect tour of the city. The race starts out at 7 a.m. ($100 for the marathon, $50 for half, and $30 for 5K; mardigrasmarathon.com). While you’re there, check out some of the Crescent City’s amazing new restaurants.
Accommodations and Travel: The Riverfront New Orleans Convention Center Hotel, located on the Port of New Orleans, has lowered its rates to $129 per night for this weekend’s guests. For more lodging choices, visit mardigrasmarathon.com/lodging. After the race is over, take a run back out to City Park — the best bird watching location in town. Nearly 300 different types of birds have been spotted there, many of them in the Park’s Couturie Forest. You can also drop a line in City Park’s 11 miles of lagoons, where bass, catfish, and perch call home (neworleanscitypark.com).
2009 Visa Freestyle International Competition, January 29-31
Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
If last weekend’s X-games didn’t quite satisfy your winter sports fix, check out the 2009 Visa Freestyle International Competition this weekend. Watch as skiers from around the world face off in mogul, aerial, ski halfpipe, and dual mogul events in Park City. Competitors will test their skills on Deer Valley’s 2002 Olympic runs and on Park City Mountain Resort’s Champion Ski run. On Thursday night, check out live entertainment from Michael Franti and Spearhead, followed by a fireworks show (free; usskiteam.com) If the competition leaves you hungry for more — or just plain hungry — pick up a Freestyle Feast Event ticket for dinner on either Friday or Saturday night for $80 (deervalley.com). If you can’t kick your winter chill to make it to the competition, watch from home on February 8, at 3 p.m. on NBC.
Accommodations and Travel: Stay with the action at Park City Mountain Resort, located a half hour away from Salt Lake City International Airport. Try out a few tricks of your own on their runs with a three-day “Rider Weekend” offer ($115 per person, per night; parkcitymountain.com).