I’m assuming most of you are familiar with or have at least heard of various Winter Olympic Sports, such as Alpine skiing (downhill, slalom, etc.), snowboarding, figure skating, luge, and curling. But what about the more obscure winter sports that used to be featured in the Olympic Games? Here are a few you may not have heard of recently, but have actually all been featured in at least at one Winter Olympics as demonstration sports – sports that are locally popular and featured at the Games, but without granting any medals. Unfortunately, the practice of allowing demonstration sports at the Winter Olympics was discontinued after the 1992 games. Here are some you’ve been missing out on!
1) Skijoring. A combination of cross-country skiing and dog sled racing, this sport calls for the skier to wear a harness and has one to three dogs assisting him. This sport is practiced both in long distances and in sprint races. Some awesome variations include Equestrian Skijoring (horse-pulled) and Motorized Skijoring (snowmobile). These versions inherently occur much more quickly and sometimes include ramps and slalom gates to make it more interesting, which sounds totally AWESOME – imagine water skiing, but on the snow!
2) Bandy. Bandy is sort of like soccer played on ice with sticks and skates – a mix of hockey and soccer, if you will. Two teams of 11 players compete to get the ball into the opposing team’s goal. The field is roughly the same size as a soccer field with many similar rules and regulations (offsides, 45 minute halves, etc.). The pace and dynamic aspect of the game is much different from hockey – the bigger field means more options for maneuvering, chasing, and passing. Bandy has always been popular in Russia (it’s their national sport!) and the Baltic countries, and it’s now enjoying a growth in popularity. It will be featured in the cultural program at Sochi 2014 and is on the table to become a full medal sport in Pyoengchang 2018. Get ahead of the game and check it out in this video now!
3) Ski ballet/ Acroski. Ski ballet, also known as acroski, was a freestyle demonstration sport in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. It consisted mainly of a choreographed routine of flips, jumps, leg rolls, spins, and more. As someone who didn’t grow up watching many winter sports, this all sounds quite weird, but watching it now, I will admit it definitely takes talent to pull off. To get an idea of what it looks like, check out this video. It has fallen out of popularity in recent years and was officially discontinued from formal competition by the International Ski Federation in 2000. What do you think — will it make a comeback?
4) Speed Skiing, AKA being a total speed demon on skis. Speed skiing is the sport of skiing as fast as you can downhill in a straight line. There are only about 30 of these specially designed courses worldwide, as they are generally 1 kilometer long and built at higher altitudes to minimize air resistance. It is the FASTEST non-mechanized sport on land, and the current world record is an incredible 156 MPH (!), held by Italian Simone Origone. I don’t even feel comfortable driving over 100 MPH in my car. I wouldn’t know what to do if I was at that speed on SKIS.
Which Olympic demonstration sport would you most like to see?