10 of the best winter sports resorts in Europe for skiing and more

Not everyone is thrilled by the idea of a week’s skiing and little else; here are ski bases with the full St Moritz array of winter fun but without the Swiss original’s steep prices

‘You’re like a gladiator’: calcio storico players on the world’s most brutal game

Every year in Florence four teams of locals kick, punch and wrestle each other in an event that dates back to the 15th century. Why do they keep doing it?

Racing through water and on ice – in pictures

Recently there were two events which involved racing in and on two of water’s three states. In Windsor, Canada 1,000 of the world’s best swimmers competed at the 2016 FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) whilst Heerenveen in the Netherlands played host to the fourth event in the ISU Speed Skating World Cup. We bring you our pick of the best images from both events

Sports the Olympics Forgot – Beagle Chasing, UK

On Easter Monday in Atherstone in Warwickshire an unusual sports event takes place that attracts hundreds of competitors. It’s the annual Beagle Chasing extravaganza,which dates from the restoration of Charles II in 1660.

The chasing takes place over a number of distances and comprises individual and team events. There are no separate races for men and women and no age-group categories. The main reason for this is that all contestants wear a hare costume and must carry a vegetable in their hand during the race, in deference to the diet of the hare. The beagles chase after an artificial scent laid by a dragsman, who wears a fox’s costume.

The scent is made from animal droppings or human urine, aniseed, and fixative. The dragsman pulls it along in a bag to create a cross-country trail. The oldest event is the Replace the Collar contest where individual hares chase a beagle across country, replace its collar, and return to the start all without dropping their vegetable on the ground. Each hare chases a different beagle and the dog is always given a five-minute start over the hare. The beagles are allocated to the hares by means of a lottery as are the vegetables that are carried. These must never touch the ground or be placed in the hare’s mouth, but they can be thrown into the air should the hare have difficulty in removing the collar and require both hands for the task. Indeed, the best collar removing hare of the 19th century was Simon Reynolds, who was a professional juggler and so could accurately throw carrots and lettuces high into the air for a good ten seconds. The vegetable can also be balanced on the nose or on top of the head if the hare  so chooses.

The Inaccessible Pinnacle: Britain’s most notorious climb

The terrifying, sheer flanks of the Inaccessible Pinnacle on the Isle of Skye are a holy grail for mountaineers. Andrew Gilchrist ropes up for the climb of his life

Golf Pool – Gool in Goole

The residents of the Goole in the East Riding of Yorkshire are famous for having invented the sport of Gool – a portmanteau word obtained from the sports of Golf and Pool. Originally the town council had decided upon Gooker but realized that this name wasn’t synonymous with their town as was also the case with Snoolf and Polf. So the sport of Gool was first played in Goole in 1956. The reason for this was the growing popularity of pool and the number of golf courses and putting greens that weren’t being used to their capacity.

There are two versions of the sport of Gool depending on whether a putting green is being used or a green on a golf course. The version played on a green on a golf course, called Green Gool, is much the easier game as all the balls have to be potted into the one hole. The only complications arise if a ball disappears into a greenside bunker. In this case, the player whose ball is in the bunker is allowed to take a free drop at the side of the green nearest the bunker without penalty other than playing their next two shots with their wrong hand.

Extract from Sports the Olympics Forgot

Seeing the beautiful game in Berlin and Brussels

Watching football / soccer in Berlin and Brussels is a wonderful experience.

I watched the Sweden v Paraguay game at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin during the 2006 World Cup and there was a wonderful atmosphere. 50,000 Swedish fans and 200 Paraguayan fans were in attendance plus some neutrals like me. Recommended.