The Sports You Will Not See At Sochi Or Any Other Winter Olympics!
This year's Winter Olympics is the longest in the 90-year history of the games. That's because the International Olympics Committee decided to add a record, twelve new events across eight disciplines - ranging from ski half-pipe to snowboard parallel slalom and even, a Luge - team rally competition. Does that mean that future Winter Olympics will be as long? Not necessarily. Here are a few sports that made a grand debut and even lasted a few games, before being scrapped in favor of more exciting and popular sports!
As the name indicates, Ski ballet involves gracefully performing jumps, flips and spins while skiing down a small hill. The sport that later became known as Acroski, was first accepted as a competitive freestyle skiing event by the International Ski Federation in the 1960's. But it was not till 1988, that the International Olympic Committee considered adding it to the official roster and then too, only as a demonstration sport.This meant that participants did not get medals.
Unfortunately, even that did not seem to excite the viewers, and after trying it for one more time in 1992, it was permanently axed. By 2000, even the International Ski Federation decided that ski ballet was not 'sport worthy' enough to be included in their competitive roster, marking the demise of this graceful, albeit strange competition.
In order to compete in this sport that involved cross country skiing, ski mountaineering and rifle shooting, the teams had to be represented by military units comprising of one officer, one non-commissioned officer and two privates. Competitors had to ski for 25 kilometers, scale up a steep slope for between 500 to 1,200 km and then shoot some difficult targets.
Though Military Patrol was featured in four of the winter games (1924, 1928, 1936 and 1948), it was only in the first one that medals were awarded. During the latter three Olympics, it was just a demonstration sport. While it is no longer part of the games, the sport did not disappear completely - it has evolved into the modern-day biathlon, an event that includes two of the three elements - cross country skiing and target shooting. Also, now anyone with the right skills is allowed to compete.
This sport which means ski driving in Norwegian is as unusual as its name. Here, contestants on skies get pulled to the finish line by horses, dogs or snowmobiles. Exciting as it sounds, Skijoring never made it beyond the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where it made its debut as a demonstration sport. Dog Skijoring still remains popular in countries that receive a lot of snow and even has its own World Championships.
What do you get when you combine ice hockey and soccer? Bandy of course! Similar to ice hockey, teams of skaters using sticks try to score - However instead of sending a puck into the opponent's net, they use a round ball. While it only made it as a demonstration sport in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway, Bandy remains extremely popular in Russia and Scandinavia and believe it or not, even in the 'Twin Cities'. And while it may seem a little strange, the game is apparently very exciting since it is played on a larger field and is therefore, much faster than ice hockey!
While Speed Skiing may seem like an oxymoron since all races, ski or otherwise, are about getting to the finish line in the fastest time, speed skiing takes it to a whole new level - That's because the competitors have to ski as fast as they can in a straight line, down an extremely steep slope. Thanks to aerodynamic helmets and skintight suits, competitors sometimes exceed speeds of 150 miles per hour, making this an extremely dangerous sport. The thrilling event did make it to the 1992 Games but after a contestant died when he crashed into a snow machine during the warm ups, the International Olympics Committee decided that the sport was a little too dangerous and ejected it. It does however remain popular in extreme competitions like the ones sponsored by energy drink maker, Red Bull.
Are there any new events in the 2014 Winter Olympics that you believe will be put on the chopping block? Be sure to let us know, by adding your comments below.
Resources: theweek.com, gizmodo.com
Reading Comprehension (3 questions)
- Why are the 2014 Winter Olympics longer by a day?
- What are the two differences between Military Patrol and Biathlon?
Critical Thinking Challenge
What is your favorite Winter Olympics sport? Why?