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9 lost sports of the Olympic Winter Games

Five figure skaters in pink costumes raise their legs in unison to perform a routine as a team.
The US Team performs during the free skate competition of the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Boston, 2013. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

What do you think when you hear "Olympic Winter Games"? Maybe events like skiing, bobsleigh and even snowboarding. 

But there have been a bunch of other sports like bandy and skijoring. You probably haven't heard of them because they didn't last very long.


A bandy player tries to steal the ball from his opponent

Players compete in the Russian Bandy Super League, Russia's top bandy division, in a match outside Moscow, 2016. (Vasily Maximov/Getty Images)

Imagine if hockey and soccer were played together. Instead of a puck, you try to hit a ball into the net. The goalkeeper has no stick and the rink is the size of a soccer field. 

OK, it's a little harder than hockey. It's harder to control a ball on the ice and there's more dribbling involved. 

But there was already ice hockey at the Winter Olympics. Since bandy was very similar, this sport never really caught on. But people around the world still play it today. 

Sled dog racing

Siberian huskies with their tongues out pull a sled in the snow

A musher (the athlete) with his team of 11 Siberian huskies. (Wikimedia/public domain)

It's exactly what you're thinking. A team of dogs pulled a sled with an athlete on it. The fastest doggies and sled won the race. 

This event is still popular today, especially in the northern parts of Canada and in Alaska. It's surprising that it was only a demonstration sport back in 1932 and 1952.

Military patrol

A team of four athletes on cross-country skis at the start line

A Norwegian military patrol gets ready for competition in 1930. (National Library of Norway/public domain)

This sport was around back in the early days of the Winter Olympics. It had three parts: cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering and rifle shooting. 

It was originally only for military units of one officer and three privates. Teams would ski for 15-25 kilometres, do a 500-4,000 metre mountain climb and shoot targets. Phew!

They dropped the mountain climb and this became the biathlon we see today.

Ice stock sport

A man measures how far a stone is from the center marker on the ice as others look on.

Men play ice stock sport on the frozen Nymphenburg canal in Munich, Germany, 2009. (Joerg Koch/Getty Images)

Think curling, but you fling the stone like in bowling. And the stone has a stick attached to it instead of a handle. 

It's still a popular sport in Germany and Austria. There they call it Eisstockschießen, or Bavarian Curling. 

It was a demonstration sport in 1936 and again in 1964 but never caught on.

Winter pentathlon

An athlete on cross-country skis goes by spectators along the course.

Nils Karlsson of Sweden cross-country skiing at the 1948 St. Moritz Olympic Winter Games. (Wikimedia/public domain)

There's a summer pentathlon that has five sports and it's popular. For some reason, the winter version just didn't take off. It was a demonstration sport at 1948 St. Moritz. 

Athletes competed in cross-country skiing, shooting, downhill skiing, fencing and horseback riding. Seems like an odd mix of sports!

Synchronized skating

Four figure skaters hold on to each other as they perform on the ice as a team.

Members of the Swedish team "Rhapsody" compete during the junior short program of the French Cup synchronized ice skating competition in France, 2015. (Charly Triballeau/Getty Images)

Yes, you read that right — synchronized skating! Someone decided to cross figure skating with competitive cheerleading. They applied for it to be admitted to the Olympics in 2015, but it was a no-go. 

There were teams of figure skaters with up to 20 of them on the ice at a time! They performed routines in complete unison on the ice. 

Synchronized skating is still a popular sport and competitions are held worldwide.

Ski ballet

An athlete uses her ski poles to help her flip and twist in the air.

Cathay Fechoz of France at the ski ballet competition at the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympic Games. (Chris Cole/Allsport/Getty Images)

This is what you get when you try to do ballet while wearing your skis. Known as Acroski, the skiers performed flips, rolls and spins to music. 

It started as a demonstration sport in 1988. It was so popular that it was included in freestyle skiing right up until 2000.

Speed skiing

An athlete in a deep crouch goes zooming down the hill in his molded skl suit.

Italian Ivan Origone in action during the XspeedSki, FIS Speed Skiing World Cup Final 2010. (Dominc Favre/AP Photo)

This is for the speed demons. Find a mountain and then ski as fast as you can down it in a straight line. Zoom! 

These athletes go so fast. They have to stop by crashing into fences specially built for that purpose. Not sure why this didn't make it as an official sport.


athletes hold on to reins attached to the back of speeding horses as they are dragged on skis.

Skijoring competition, Netherlands. 1930.

Almost the same as sled dog racing, except that the athlete is on skis! 

Skijoring (say "ski-YO-ring") was demonstrated at the Winter Olympics in 1928. The skiers were pulled by horses, but dogs have been used as well.

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