Team Snowball Fight Tops List of Hands-On Winter Activities in Alaska

Alaskans have always embraced winter, and are increasingly encouraging travelers to do the same with a lineup of participation-required activities around the state. Yukigassen – a team snowball fight tournament that will be held for the first time in the United States in Anchorage – is the freshest 2011 offering.

Drawing thousands of spectators every year in Japan, Yukigassen will be the newest program addition to the 76th annual Fur Rendezvous, a winter celebration in Anchorage held from Feb. 25 – March 6. Called "Fur Rondy" by the locals, the festival is known for its wacky, family-friendly events, and Yukigassen shouldn’t prove any different.

Originating from the town of Sobetsu in Japan, "yuki" translates to snow, and "gassen" to battle — and an epic snow battle it will be. Two teams of seven follow strict game regulations enforced by Yukigassen officials on a rectangular court with chateaus, shelters and flags. Each teams packs its own snowballs. Helmets are mandatory, and any type of shield is prohibited. The first team to capture the flag of their opponents, or hit all members of the opposing team with snowballs, wins.

Visitors are encouraged to get involved in a Yukigassen team, as well as in other hands-on activities throughout the state. The possibilities range from skiing to dog mushing and snowmobiling:

– Alaska’s been a popular heli-skiing destination for years, but the newest operator on the scene, Alaska Mountain Guides, offers trips out of Skagway, a historic town along the Inside Passage. From February to April, the adventure guide service will host skiers with varying skill levels in the northernmost region of the Coast Range.

– The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race draws spectators from around the world to Alaska each year. This winter, PAWS for Adventure not only will teach guests to drive their own team of sled dogs on multi-day tours out of Fairbanks, but also will host them overnight at the company’s newly acquired Tolovana Roadhouse, the first transfer point in the original lifesaving serum run to Nome, which the Iditarod celebrates.

– Travelers who want to see the northern lights can hit the road with Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours and Alaska Snow Safaris in the Mat-Su Valley this year. A multi-day snowmobile tour takes travelers out to a lodge on the Yentna River, prime positioning for the lights show and ice fishing.
Source = Alaska Travel Industry Association
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