Puttin' the Alter Back in Alternative

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Perhaps inspired by the X Games/Gravity Games phenomenon of previously unknown sports getting NFL-level TV coverage, a slew of kooky new mountain and winter sports are streaming out of the woodwork and hollering for our attention. Here's a breakdown of three of alternative sport's biggest alternatives.

Ski Archery
How it Works:Like biathlon, only you get a bow and a quiver of arrows instead of a rifle.
Premier Event:The biannual Ski-Archery World Championships, to be held next at Salt Lake in March 2001.
Possible Pioneers:Bow hunters with long-suppressed desire to wear stretch Lycra.
X Games Potential:Not unless they make it a contact sport.
What it Takes to Compete:Experience in a theater production of Robin Hood.
Biggest Downside:Weak firepower by modern standards.
Worst-Case Scenario:The sheriff of Nottingham on a snowmobile.

Blade Running
How it Works:Dropped from a helicopter, you swoop via parachute through a super G course set with story-high gates, never touching the snow.
Premier Event:Whatever the organizers can scrape together; a 2000 event at The Big Mountain was under discussion at press time.
Possible Pioneers:Ex-Gulf War paratroopers looking to scam free lift tickets.
X Games Potential:Hell, yes.
What it Takes to Compete:Cojones, and a canopy.
Biggest Downside:Choppers liable to be hijacked by competitors for heli-skiing.
Worst-Case Scenario:Crosswinds blow you onto I-70.

Extreme Golf
How it Works:Like golf, but the course is laid out on the muddy slopes of an off-season ski hill.
Premier Event:U.X. Open Alternative Golf Championship, first held last summer at Mountain Creek, New Jersey.
Posible Pioneers:Ski-and-golf-resort developers, suddenly alerted to something called Generation X.
X Games Potential:Hell, no.
Hiking boots, a case of Schlitz, and lots of golf balls.
Biggest Downside:Unavailability of off-road tires and winches for golf carts.
Worst-Case Scenario:Off-season ski archers mistake you for an eight-point buck.