In honor of the new event, ski mountaineering, being added to the 2026 Winter Olympics, here are the strangest winter sports from around the world that never made it to the Olympics.

Athletes compete in skijoring. Photo: Hans Loepfe

Skijoring is a winter sport that involves skiing behind and being pulled by a variety of animals such as dogs or horses, making it a blend of skiing and equestrian sports. Skijoring originated in Norway in the 1900s and is still a popular tradition in Switzerland today. Ski ballet, or acroski, was another sport that emerged in the 1900s. This is a form of ballet or figure skating that people perform on skis, but since it had a somewhat silly appearance, it mostly disappeared after the 1990s. 

Snow rugby is the more popular of these sports, and blends rugby and skiing. Snow rugby is played on a snow-covered rugby field in extremely cold conditions, where two teams try to score points. This is popular in Europe and there is even a snow rugby championship held annually, the most recent one being held in Russia. Another sport that is a blend of others, is bandy, which is a variation of hockey. Bandy combines hockey and soccer and is played on a large ice rink. It originated in England in the 1880s, and has now developed a governing body, the Federation of International Bandy. It is often played in Europe, with its strongest competitors being Sweden and Russia.

 In Japan, a popular winter sport is called Yukigassen, which translates to “snow battle.” It is similar to capture the flag, but people are eliminated with snowballs rather than being tagged. The rest of the rules are determined by the Japan Yukigassen Federation, so it is considered an official sport in Japan. 

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