Weekly sports agenda: Winter X Games Europe, Abu Dhabi Tri, Bahrain Grand Prix

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The Independent Online

Among major upcoming sporting events, the extreme snowsports of the Winter X Games come to Europe for the first time, Abu Dhabi's Triathlon welcomes pro-am athletes from the UAE and beyond, and Formula One's season starts in Bahrain.

Endurance: Snowshoe Marathon
March 6
Pittsfield, Vermont, USA

Part of the Peak Race series, the Snowshoe Marathon enforces a 10-hour completion limit and four laps of an ungroomed 6.5 mile (10.5km) trail circuit. There is also a half-marathon available and a "fun" run for those wanting to give the sport a try. The $75 (€55) registration fee also includes access to the post-race meal. The 100 mile, 15-lap ultra marathon costs $125 (€95).


Skiing: Vasaloppet Ski Marathon
March 7
Dalarna, Sweden

The 90km Vasaloppet ski marathon is the jewel in the crown for a week-long Swedish annual ski festival: a 90km ski marathon between the towns of Sälen and Mora which is the oldest of the 15 Worldloppet long distance events and one of three remaining races in the 2009/10 FIS Marathon Cup.


Endurance: Midlands Ultra Triathlon
March 7
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

The Midlands Ultra is a 1.8km swim, 60km road cycle, and a 15km on-road / offroad run based in the Midmar Dam Nature Reserve, about an hour's drive away from Durban, with all proceeds going towards Wildlands Conservation Trust projects. Registration on the day costs R460 (€44) for the Ultra or R240 (€23) for the 1/3-length Sprint.

Odd sports: Westpac Birdman Rally
March 7
Melbourne, Australia

The Birdman Rally, part of the Melbourne city festival that runs March 5-8, is an annual occurrence, as men (and women) line up in various costumes and contraptions and attempt to fly across the Yarra river. The event is free to enter and free to watch.
More information available at That's Melbourne.com

Field Hockey: Men's Hockey World Cup
February 28 - March 13
New Delhi, India

Twelve nations compete with each other in two groups, with just four to go forward to the knock-out rounds on March 11. Joining the hosts India in Pool B will be Australia, England, Pakistan, South Africa and Spain; in Pool A are current world number ones Germany, with Argentina, Canada, Korea, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. Tickets cost from 100 Rupees (€1.55) for group stage general admission up to 7,500R (€120) for 'V.VIP' hospitality at the final.

Extreme sports: Winter X Games Europe
March 10-12
Tignes, France

The Winter X Games come to Europe for the first time, and the French ski resort of Tignes will be hosting. Superpipes and slopestyle competitions for skiers and snowboarders will be accompanied by a snowmobile freestyle demo. ESPN and Canal+ are expected to carry the majority of televised events, with footage also available from the official site.

Athletics: IAAF World Indoor Championships
March 12-14
Doha, Qatar

With events in track racing, long and high jump, shot put and pole vault among others, the IAAF World Indoor Championships occur every two years, and the Outdoor Championships occur during even-numbered years. Day tickets cost from 10 QAR (€2).

Endurance: Abu Dhabi Triathlon
March 13
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

With a total prize fund of $250,000 (€184,000), this triathlon under the Emirati sun certainly has its fair share of gold up for grabs. Its constituent elements differ from standard lengths, with a shorter swim and longer cycle, meaning that athletes can anticipate a quicker post-race recovery. Registration is $180 for the full-length race, $123 for the half-distance course, and $272 for a three-person relay team (€90, €132, or €200).

Unusual: Ultimate Typing Championship
March 14
Austin, Texas, USA

Part of the South by Southwest cultural festival, the Ultimate Typing Championship finals are a culmination of a five-month elimination which started with web-based typing challenges before moving on to a semi-final knock out round in early January. Sean Wrona, a 25-year-old statistical programmer, faces off against Nate Bowen, a 31-year-old web and iPhone developer. Both can hit 150 words per minute and compete for a $2,000 (€1,480) prize.

Formula One: Bahrain Grand Prix
March 14
Sakhir, Bahrain

The 2010 Formula One season opens in Bahrain for the second time in the track's six-year history and sees the return of one of the sport's biggest stars: Michael Schumacher will be lining up on the starting grid for the first time in four years. The GP starts at 15:00 local time (12:00 GMT). For those looking to attend in person rather than watch on TV, grandstand tickets range from 45-155 dinars (€88-305) for race day, and not much more for a three-day pass.

Wrestling: Osaka Grand Sumo Tournament
March 14-28
Osaka, Japan

One of six Grand Tournaments held throughout the year, each of the events' 15 days sees wrestling action take place from early morning (8:30am) to late afternoon (5pm) across several divisions, with top wrestlers performing last, and the colorful ritual Bow Ceremony at the end of each day. General admission tickets are 2,000 YEN (€16), while any remaining box seats would be in the region of 10,300 YEN (€83) first hand.

Skiing: FIS World Cup Finals
March 19-22
Lugnet, Falun, Sweden

The International Ski Federation's World Cup tour that started in November 2009 ends in central Sweden with a three-day championship schedule, following on from the penultimate meet in Stockholm on March 17. For the men, Norwegian Petter Northug has a clear advantage over his nearest rivals, while in the women's category it is Justyna Kowalczyk who heads the field.

Rugby Union: IRB Sevens World Series
March 19-21, Adelaide, Australia
March 26-28, Hong Kong

The 12 core national sides are again joined by four guest nations, this time in Australia, March 19-21. Australia, in fifth place overall, will be looking to make their home advantage count. Tickets for this leg of the tour cost between $17 AUD (€11) for general admission on the first night to $200 AUD (€130) for a three-day family pass. The Hong Kong stage features a bumper 24 teams, adult day tickets for that are $1,250 HK (€120).

IX South American Games
March 19-30
Medellín, Colombia

Though in the past the games featured regional sports such as bocce, a variant on bowls, and popular soccer derivative futsal, this year's South American Games go for more standard Olympic fare with sports such as swimming, cycling, fencing, martial arts, weightlifting, and of course track & field. The city of Medellín has been determined to embrace the Games' spirit of equality and fairness by distributing free tickets to residents for the opening ceremony.

World Powerboat Championship, Race 1 & 2
March 27-28
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Following on from the UAE's Team Victory achieving a Championship grand slam over the course of 2009, 2010 roars to life in Rio with the first two races of a seven-stage international tour that goes on to Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. As Rio's main event site is Marina de Glória at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, the race can be seen from Eduardo Gomes beach and even Sugarloaf Mountain.

Formula One: Australian Grand Prix
March 28
Melbourne, Australia

Second in the 2010 F1 schedule, the famous Melbourne track welcomes the series' hopefuls for 58 laps of its 5.3km (3.3mi) circuit around Albert Park. General admission tickets are $99 AUD (€65) for an adult on race day or $198 (€131) for a four day pass, while single day tickets for the Schumacher Grandstand are $199 (€132), with further areas available as four-day packages.

Endurance: 25th Marathon des Sables
April 2-12
Sahara Desert, Morocco

The Sand Marathon certainly has earned its reputation of being the toughest footrace on earth. Contestants must be almost entirely self-sufficient over the six-day, 254km (156mi) ultra marathon. Over 700 participants are expected to amass at this year's starting line, while families and curious onlookers can observe their progress via videos and interviews on the Marathon website.