Strange Winter Sports (Olympic or Otherwise)


Have you ever noticed there are so many strange Olympic sports? I confess, I love watching them all. The whole spectacle fascinates me: the opening ceremonies, the ice skating and ski jumping, and, of course, the curling.

Maybe it’s because curling is a sport I could actually do without hurting myself. But I’ve always enjoyed watching off-beat sports, intrigued by the details of the rules and the seriousness of the competitors.

So I decided to check out what odd sports the Olympics will include this year, as well as come up with a few to watch when the Sochi Games are just a memory.

Curling, if you don’t know what it is, seem to be a sport developed by thrifty people who didn’t want to invest in sports equipment. Instead, they used the nearby frozen lake and household items. Basically, you push a thing shaped like an overweight teapot (technical name: stone) along something that resembles a shuffleboard court on ice. Two others walk alongside it, using brooms to sweep in front of the stone to try to make the ice just right so the stone stops on the target.

Ski ballet is exactly what it sounds like, dancing on skis. It’s weirdly beautiful to watch someone spin, twirl and flip using the poles as props, while skiing down a slope. I can see how with the advent of snowboarding, ski ballet seems tame in comparison. It never got beyond the level of a demonstration sport.

Horse skijoring involved one person riding a horse, the other pulled behind. I know which team member I’d rather be. This was a demonstration sport in 1928. I’m not surprised it didn’t catch on.

And for the sports that never made it to the Olympics…

Ice Diving

Put on your wetsuit, cut a hole in the ice and dive in. Just make sure you can get back to the hole.

Ice Climbing

If swimming under the ice gives you a sense of claustrophobia, maybe ice climbing’s for you. Same idea as mountain climbing, but the gear is modified for the ice. You also get to climb things you wouldn’t be able to in the warmer weather, like frozen waterfalls.

Snow Kayaking

Want to get some use out of your kayak in the winter? Wax it up and take it down the ski slope. The paddle will give you some control, but the wax can cause you to go at very scary high speeds.

Polar Bear Swimming

Don’t let a little ice and snow stop you. The water will be no colder than 32 degrees, so it will be warmer than the air. Getting out could be more of a challenge. You’ll notice that I’m not in the picture, taking the plunge. Some sports are more fun as a spectator.

Will you be watching the Olympics? I’m ready!

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