Winter Olympics Rejects: 5 Sports That Didn’t Make the Cut
The Olympic Games aren’t unchanging — like everything else, they’ve evolved with the times. Plenty of events have been cut from the Winter Olympics, and many more have never been included at all. These Olympic rejects may have been deemed good enough for demonstration events, but they just couldn’t break through into the competitive big time.
Don’t you think skis would be more fun if you wore them while being hauled along by a team of dogs? Do you wish hockey were a little more like soccer, or downhill skiing a little more like ballet? If so, strap on your headphones, put on someOlympian music and take a look at the Winter Games that might have been.
Skijoring, from the Norwegian for “ski driving,” is a winter sport in which a person on skis is pulled along by a horse, team of dogs, or motorized conveyance like a motorcycle or snowmobile. Competitions are held throughout the northern United States, Canada, Scandinavia and Russia, with the longest race in Kalevala, Karelia, Russia being 270 miles long. Some forms of skijoring incorporate jumps and slalom gates.
Skijoring probably evolved as a form of travel in wintry climates; it may also have been influenced by the Scandinavian practice of using a dog, a human skier or a reindeer to pull supplies or people on a small sled. Any kind of dog can be used in skijoring, as long as it’s agreeable to hauling a skier around. Skijoring was a demonstration event at the 1928 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Also known as “acroski,” ski ballet was practiced as a freestyle ski discipline for much of the 20th century, from the late 1960s to about the year 2000. It combines flips, jumps, rolls and spins with graceful downhill skiing, usually set to music. Ski ballet was demonstrated at the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. It is no longer a competitive sport.
Sled Dog Racing
Sled dog racing seems like it’d be a shoe-in for the Winter Olympics — it’s a sport people have heard of, right? Still, it’s never been able to claim a competitive spot in the games. A demonstration sled dog race at the 1932 games in Lake Placid, New York pitted five Canadians and seven Americans, each with a six-dog team, against one another over a 25.1-mile-long course. Emile Goddard, a Canadian, finished in first place with a time of 4 hours, 23 minutes and 12.5 seconds.
Speed skiing is the fastest non-motorized sport on Earth. An Italian man named Simone Origone holds the world speed record in this sport, having reached an astonishing 156 mph. Though the International Ski Federation regulates speed skiing events so participants don’t exceed more than 124 mph, there’s no speed limit during professional races, and the skiers go much faster.
They do it by skiing in an unwaveringly straight line. The sport was demonstrated at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, where one speed skier died after crashing into a grooming machine while doing his warm-ups. However, Professional speed skiers maintain the sport is much safer than normal alpine skiing.
Bandy, a popular sport throughout Scandinavia and Russia, has been described as a cross between soccer and ice hockey. Players on skates use hockey-like sticks to bandy a ball around on a rink the size of a soccer pitch. The rules of bandy are similar to those of soccer, and the game progression is much faster, allegedly because the rink is so much bigger.
Bandy was demonstrated at the 1952 games in Oslo, Norway, and though it isn’t an Olympic sport, its world championships are held every year. The sport has a small following in North America, especially in Minnesota, where the freezing winter temperatures make huge outdoor ice rinks feasible.
Not every winter sport gets its spot in the Olympics — but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve our attention. Maybe the Winter Games would be a little more interesting if they included a ski ballet, speed skiing or skijoring event. As it is, we can only cheer from the sidelines as the world’s best athletes compete to find out who’s the best at curling.