There will be 12 new events this year at the Winter Olympics, but none of them will involve horses towing skiers across frozen lakes.
Once upon a time though — 1928, to be specific — the Olympics did indeed feature such a sport. Skijoring, as it's called, is one of several sports to be showcased at the Games, but never accepted as an official event.
"Demonstration" events at the Olympics are platforms for aficionados to rally support for including their favorite sport in future Games. While some sports ultimately make the cut, like basketball and curling, most do not.
Here, the weirdest such sports that the Winter Olympics left behind:
The aforementioned sport has a few variations. Participants can ether be pulled by horses, vehicles, or dogs (kind of like a sled-less Iditorad). The 1928 Games, in Sankt Moritz, Switzerland, featured seven horse-drawn competitors, but since it was not an official contest, "little else is known of the event," according to Sports Reference. It was never demonstrated at the Games again.
Here's a CNN segment on the strange sport:
Played on ice, teams of skaters use sticks to try and knock a round ball into an opponent's net. Sound familiar? It should, because bandy is basically hockey's odd great-great-grandfather, with some bits of soccer thrown in.
Bandy made only one appearance at the Olympics, in 1952, before disappearing. Still, the International Olympic Committee recognizes it as a sport because at least 25 nations have bandy federations.
The point of all ski races is to finish with the fastest time, so the name of this former demonstration event may seem redundant. But speed is key here: the sport involves competitors trying to ski as fast as possible in a straight line down a steep slope.
Aided by skintight suits and aerodynamic helmets, racers can reach speeds of more than 150 miles per hour. Mistakes can be fatal. One racer crashed into a snow machine and died during warm-ups at the 1992 Olympics, the only year speed skiing made an appearance at the Games.
Though the extreme sport is no longer an Olympic event, Red Bull is all over it:
You're probably familiar with biathlon, the winter sport combining cross-country skiing and sharpshooting. Now add some downhill skiing. And horseback riding. And fencing. Ta-da: winter pentahlon!
Though the multifaceted event was only held during the 1948 Games, the biathlon has been part of the Games since 1960.
Figure skating on skis, more or less.
Also called "acroski," the event got two cracks at the Olympics, in 1988 and 1992. But having combined the least exciting parts of two sports — flat ground and silly costumes, respectively — it never attracted a wide audience, and has largely disappeared.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- As deadly skin cancer rates keep climbing, surgeon general says to stop tanning and wear sunscreen
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
Subscribe to the Week