At the Sochi Winter Olympics, which began Feb. 7, you won’t be seeing kite flying or ski ballet -- no, those athletic gems are bygones of Olympic yesteryear.
For nearly a century, a special space was reserved for unofficial sporting events at the Olympic Games. Such an event was usually held as a trial for a sport's official inclusion in future Games or as a representation of a unique sport in the host country. These displays were given the name "demonstration sports" at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Sweden. But, sadly, the International Olympic Committee banished the often offbeat events after the Barcelona Summer Games in 1992.
The 1900 Paris Olympics by far featured some of the most remarkable (and bizarre) feats of physical strength and splendor -- among them, firefighting and poodle clipping.
Below, we've dug up six amazing demonstration sports we wish were part of the actual Games. You’re welcome.
Skijoering should be a permanent Olympic fixture because of its amazing name. But that's not all the crazy the event is packing. For this sport, a single person on skis is towed by a horse or dog. (Think about that for a minute.) It appeared only once as a demonstration sport, at the 1928 Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
www.davingphotography.com via Getty Images
The firefighting competition was an unofficial event at the 1900 Paris Games. It's not clear exactly how the competition was organized, but many speculate that Parisian buildings were set ablaze, and teams raced to extinguish the flames fastest. According to Gizmodo, the U.S. took home the professional division win
for that competition.
Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
Poodle clipping is yet another example of how bizarre the 1900 Paris Olympics were, most likely because the World's Fair was being held nearby. The rules of the unofficial event were simple: Shear the most poodle fur in two hours. According to The Independent, 128 competitors gathered at the Bois de Boulogne, a park in west Paris, for the event. The winner of the competition was France's own 37-year-old Avril Lafoule, who clipped an impressive 17 poodles.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
While the other sporting events on this list most likely won't see a big comeback in modern Games, synchronized skating has a growing fan base worldwide and continues to vie for official Olympic status. It is a precision sport involving dance choreography for eight to 20 skaters
and is quite stunning to watch. In 2007, it took one step closer to Olympic recognition when it was selected to be a demonstration sport at the World University Games.
Little is known about ballooning's brief stint as a demonstration sport at the 1900 Paris Olympics. According to National Geographic
, the 61 men and three women who competed were judged on distance, duration and elevation. The French dominated the event, but it didn't land a permanent spot on the Games' roster due to a ban on motorized sports.