For those who have been watching the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on television, chances are they have glimpsed some sports that they may not be too familiar with. Examples might be Curling, Biathlon and Nordic Combined, and if folks watched the 2012 Summer Olympics they may have been introduced to the Canoe Slalom, Equestrian Dressage and the Modern Pentathlon. Those events may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they do appear to be staple Olympic events at least for the moment. However, Olympic historians know that the Sochi Olympics are missing events.
What viewers might not know is that any number of events have faded from Olympics to obscurity over the years. What are the events that once upon a time intrigued the Olympics, athletes and spectators but are no longer with us?
The following list is an overview of 10 events that are no longer a part of the Olympics, although some are still played in various parts of the world and many still have their fans.
Military Patrol. At the 1924 Olympics in France, there was something called a Military Patrol competition, basically shooting and skiing. This was known as a demonstration sporting event in that it was played only for the reason of exhibiting or promoting it with no medals awarded. It surfaced at the 1924 Olympics and ended in 1948. This event eventually morphed into the biathlon.
Men’s Special Figures. This was a figure skating event that was only on the program once in 1908 at the London Olympics. This sport involved competitors tracing patterns on the ice with the blade of one ice skate, which required the skater to display considerable steadiness and control while skating on one foot.
Skiing Behind Horses. This was a demonstration sport seen at the 1928 Olympics held in Switzerland. The event only lasted for one Olympics. The name of the event speaks for itself.
Bandy or Soccer on Ice. In this event skaters use sticks to direct a ball into the opposing teams goal. It came and went at the 1952 Olympics in Norway.
Speed Skiing. As the name implies this involves skiers going down a hill as fast as they can with the winner posting the top speed. The sport only occurred once at the 1992 Olympics in France. The reason it was expunged? One of the competitors was killed the morning of the finals when he crashed into a snow grooming vehicle.
Ski Ballet. This sport, which was at the 1988 Olympics and the 1992 Olympics combines figure skating and bunny hill skiing. Contestants had to make their way down a small hill doing spins, curls and other moves.
Snowshoeing. This event came and went at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. As you might expect it involves distance races with competitors wearing snowshoes.
Dog Sled Racing. This event made an appearance at the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, and involved competitors and their sleds and dogs racing distances up to 25 miles. It’s a popular sport outside the Olympics as evidenced by the famous annual Iditarod race from Anchorage to Nome in Alaska.
Winter Pentathlon. This was held once at the 1948 Winter Olympics in France. It was a demonstration sport and involved a combination of cross-country skiing, shooting, downhill skiing, fencing and horse riding.
Freestyle Skiing. This was a demonstration sport at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The event spawned the phrase “hot dogging” and many felt it was too dangerous.
There is even a new event this year in Sochi called Slopestyle, joining such other snowboard events as Parallel Giant Slalom, Halfpipe and Snowboard Cross. Snowboarding as a category only made its debut as a Winter Olympic event in 1998 in Nagono, Japan. Some other sports that were expunged over the years from the summer Olympics include dueling pistols and live pigeon shooting.
Other sports have only made one or very limited appearances at both the winter and summer Olympics in the past 100 years including lacrosse, cricket, water motorsports and even tug of war.
Still other sports and competitions are recognized on the world stage but they are not official Olympic events. They include baseball, bowling, golf, karate, billiards, rugby, squash and surfing to name a few. Some of these may eventually rise to the level of a medal winning Olympic event but, for the time being, watchers can only lament the Sochi Olympics missing events.
By Jim McCullaugh