Given Austria's mountainous location in the Alps, outdoor winter sports such as downhill skiing, bobsled and hockey are very popular. There is also great interest in other sports such as rugby and soccer.
Located in the heart of the Alps, Austria is considered to be the birthplace of downhill skiing, and winter sports are preferred over summer ones. Many of the most prestigious ski resorts in the world are located in Austria. The country's athletes consistently perform well at the Winter Olympic games and are among the most decorated countries in the world in all winter sports competitions. The Austrian Ice Hockey Federation sponsors a popular spectator sports team. Many hockey players from Austria have also played in the NHL, considered to be the highest level of hockey in the world.
In the warmer months of the year, lakes and rivers of the lowlands offer many opportunities for kayaking and swimming. Austrian football is second in popularity only to alpine skiing. The highest level of play is the Austrian Bundesliga. Basketball is gaining popularity, with several teams from the Österreichische Basketball Bundesliga having played in many European competitions. Austria has also produced successful drivers in road racing, and the country hosts several motorcycle and automobile races annually.