Home Technology News 11 Winter Olympic Sports You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

11 Winter Olympic Sports You Probably Haven’t Heard Of


With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in full swing, people around the world are tuning in to watch their favorite competitions.

Most viewers are familiar with popular events like figure skating and ice hockey. Bobsled is also well-known (shout-out to “Cool Runnings”), and curling seems to be everyone’s cult favorite

But there are a few events that aren’t so well-known. Looking back at discontinued events and demonstration sports throughout Winter Olympics history, there are even more. (Demonstration sports are showcases for promotional purposes. They’re generally under consideration for inclusion in the regular Olympic program but often don’t make the cut.)

We’ve compiled a list of Winter Olympic sports that aren’t quite household names, at least to non-winter sports fanatics:


British athlete Laura Deas during a women’s skeleton training run in Pyeongchang ahead of the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Tim Clayton – Corbis via Getty Images)

Skeleton is a winter sliding sport. Basically, it involves an athlete plummeting headfirst down a steep frozen track while lying on a very small sled. Sounds … relaxing. 

Skeleton racing dates back to the late 19th century. It appeared at the Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1928 and 1948 under the name cresta. It permanently joined the Olympic program in 2002. 


Biathletes at a practice session in Pyeonchang.  (FRANCK FIFE via Getty Images)

Biathlon is a combination of two very different events: cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The sport supposedly grew out of survival practices in Scandinavia, where hunters skied through forests with rifles on their shoulders. 

There have been biathlon-type events in that region since the 18th century, and the sport as we know it today officially joined the Olympic games in 1960 in Squaw Valley, California.  


A skijoring race in St. Moritz in February 2017. (Awakening via Getty Images)

Skijoring involves skiing while being pulled by a horse or dog (or multiple dogs). Although there are no Olympic skijorers today, skijoring was included as a demonstration sport in the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz.

Ski Ballet

Oksana Kushenko of Russia performing in the ski ballet competition at the 1997 FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships in Nagano, Japan. (Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

Also known as acroski, ski ballet is a freestyle skiing event that involves choreographed routines with flips, jumps and other moves on smooth slopes. 

Ski ballet was a demonstration sport in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada, and the 1992 games in Albertville, France.


Finnish and Russian hockey players compete in the 2018 Bandy World Championship semi-final match in Khabarovsk, Russia. (Yuri Smityuk via Getty Images)

Bandy is very similar to ice hockey, but it involves a larger rink, a larger net, more players and a small ball rather than a puck. Bandy is more popular outside the U.S. and was a demonstration sport at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway.

Super Giant Slalom

Jan Hudec of Canada skis during the men’s alpine skiing Super-G competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Dominic Ebenbichler / Reuters)

This alpine skiing event has been part of the Winter Olympic Games since 1998. 

Super giant slalom, aka Super G, combines technical aspects of slalom and the speed racing aspects of downhill skiing.

Military Patrol

The German military ski patrol team crossing the finish line to take fifth place during the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. (Past Pix via Getty Images)

A precursor to biathlon, military patrol was an official sport at the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France. Military patrol was a team sport involving cross-country skiing, rifle shooting and ski mountaineering.

It grew out of military exercises and was an Olympic demonstration sport in 1928, 1936 and 1948.

Speed Skiing

Simone Origone of Italy competes in the FIS Speed Skiing World Championships in 2009 in Vars, France.  (GERARD JULIEN via Getty Images)

Speed skiing is about as terrifying as it sounds. Basically, it involves skiing straight down a mountain as fast as you can. The world record speed is 158.424 miles per hour, set by Ivan Origone in 2016.

Speed skiing was a demonstration sport at the 1992 Olympics, where Swiss speed skiier Nicolas Bochatay died during a practice run on the morning of the finals.  

Ice Stock Sport

A picture of ice stock sport from 1896.  (Culture Club via Getty Images)

Ice stock sport is somewhat of a mix of curling and pétanque. Also known as “eisstocksport,” or Bavarian curling, it was apparently a demonstration sport at the 1936 Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany and the 1964 games in Innsbruck, Austria.  

Sled Dog Racing

A sled dog race in Russia in January 2018. (Dmitry Feoktistov via Getty Images)

This sport is fairly well-known thanks to a number of movies featuring adorable huskies. 

But most people don’t know about its Olympic past. Sled dog racing was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

Winter Pentathlon

The Winter Olympic pentathlon included horseback riding. (Imagno via Getty Images)

A winter pentathlon was one of the demonstration sports at the 1948 Winter Olympics. Like biathlon, it featured cross-country skiing and shooting, but it also added downhill skiing, fencing and horseback riding. Simple enough, right? 

Honorable mention: Synchronized Skating

A U.S. synchronized skating team competing in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2004. (Reuters Photographer / Reuters)

This one doesn’t really count, but it seemed worth mentioning. Synchronized skating has never been part of the Olympic program, though advocates are trying to change that. Just look at that coordination!

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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