My friend the library let me down. In case you’re not sure, the library is kind of like the internet except you have to travel to get there. I grabbed a book at the library the other day called The Book of Olympic Lists which is totally misnamed. It should be called the Book of Summer Olympic Lists Completely Ignoring All Winter Sports.
So I have now turned to my friend the internet to help round out my research.
It is still true that sometimes over the years host countries have added
interesting unusual weird sports to the Olympics (like Tug of War and Obstacle Swimming). I can now add Interesting and Unusual Winter Sports for your reading enjoyment. I am not making any of this up.
In 1932 (Lake Placid), one of the sports was a dog sled race. Actually, there were two races on the 25.1 mile course. Only Canada and the US participated since dogs from other parts of the world decided they’d rather curl up in front of a nice cozy fire. This was the first recorded time in Olympic history of athletes using less-than-private “facilities.” So Sochi is just revisiting communal potties.
Moving straight ahead, or at least straight down, the Albertville Olympics (1992) showcased speed skiing. The point of speed skiing is to hit the fastest speed you possibly can (think clocking a baseball pitch). Speed skiers regularly exceed 200 km/h (125 mph), which is even faster than a free-falling skydiver (about 190 km/h; 120 mph). The Frenchman who won in Albertville reached 229 k/hr. This is a very dangerous sport (people have died) and is not nearly as interesting to watch as it sounds like it should be, so we’ll keep it on the “nevermind” list.
The best named sport I could find is skijoring (which I will leave to others to pronounce correctly). Basically, skijoring combines skiing with dogsleding. The human wears skis and a harness to which a dog (or three) is/are attached. There are no reins so you have to hope your dog is very motivated to get moving and that you have trained your dog to respond to your voice commands even when that pup can’t see an immediate incentive to do so. Skijoring was in the Games in 1928 (St. Moritz) where the skiers were pulled by horses (which made it more like combining skiing with a Budweiser commercial). Also, they held the race on a frozen lake. Which is odd because frozen lakes are flat and part of the fun is going over bumps and jumps. Or so I’ve been led to understand.
The other oddly named sport is skeleton (which of course has nothing to do with Halloween or underfed athletes). Men’s skeleton first appeared in the Olympics in 1928 (still St. Moritz). Then everyone forgot about it until the Olympics went back there in 1948 and they tried it once again (once being the operative word). In 2002 (Salt Lake) men’s and women’s skeleton became part of the regular Olympic lineup. In my opinion, extra points should be given for really cool helmets.
Hoping your Olympic lineup includes studying of epic proportions.
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