It's not uncommon for an Olympic event to start out as a demonstration sport before eventually being accepted into the official program. Curling, for example, had a brief podium-level appearance in 1924, but was downgraded for the 1932, 1988, and 1992 Games. It finally regained its medal status at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan and has been a firm, if somewhat niche, favorite ever since.
Over the years, many other events have been featured as exhibitions, some of which might seem a bit bizarre to modern viewers. Consider "skijoring," which involves participants on skis being towed by horses, dogs, or motor vehicles across the frozen ground. Think water skiing on snow. Equine skijoring was included in the 1928 Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, but hasn't been seen again.
Other quirky demonstration sports include ski ballet, bandy (best described as a mash-up of ice hockey and soccer), and military patrol (a militaristic blend of cross-country skiing, mountaineering, and rifle shooting).
More one-hit wonders at the Winter Olympics:
- Other demonstration sports have been more mainstream, such as dog sled racing, which was held at the 1932 Games in Lake Placid, New York, and speed skiing, which sent participants hurtling down a steep slope during the 1992 Games in Albertville, France.
- At the 1988 Calgary Games and the 1992 Albertvile Games, ski ballet demonstrations featured freestyle skiers performing a 90-second routine accompanied by music. Skiers were judged on technical difficulty, choreography, and overall performance.
- A form of curling known as Bavarian curling – called Eisstockschiessen in German but billed as "ice stock sport" at the 1936 and 1964 Games – featured competitors sliding a 10-pound (4.5-kg) “ice stock” and trying to get it closest to a rubber disc target called a “daube.”