The last Summer Olympic Games included 26 sports (with 2 more to be added in the 2016 games). The 2014 Winter Olympics will include 7 sports. However, over the history of the modern Olympic Games, there have been a great number of sports that made a brief appearance. Some are fairly well known, such as baseball and softball. Others are more obscure, while still others may be complete head scratchers. Still each sport was probably very important to those who competed and they deserve their moment in the spotlight.
10. Plunge Diving
Also known as plunge for distance this was part of aquatics, which encompasses water disciplines such as swimming, diving and water polo. Its only appearance was at the 1904 Summer Games in St Louis. Plunge for distance was a diving long jump. Competitors dove into the pool from a standing position and their attained distance was measured after either 60 seconds passed or their head broke the surface, whichever came first.
This was another sport that had only one appearance, in the 1900 Summer Games in Paris. Even though there were three events, Singles (one and two balls) and Doubles, there were only ten competitors, nine of whom were from France. There was one competitor from Belgium, but he didn’t make it through the first round. Another surprising note, there three of the competitors were women and they competed against the men.
8. Motorboat Racing
This was another one hit wonder in the Summer Games. The 1908 Summer Games in London was the only time that any kind of motorized sport has taken place in the Olympic games. Each race consisted of five laps around an eight nautical mile course. Unfortunately, someone must have forgotten to inform Mother Nature that this was the Olympic Games, because even though multiple boats started each race, only one managed to complete each one.
7. 200 Meter Obstacle Swim
In Paris 1900, swimming took place on the Seine and included an obstacle race and one where the point was to swim the whole distance under water. This curious event took place (like Croquet) at the 1900 Summer Games in Paris. Competitors were rowed out 200 meters from shore and traverse three different obstacles in the race. First they had to climb over a pole, then over a row of boats, then finally under another row of boats.
6. Two-Handed Throws
Yet another one-time appearance. Although technical this is three one-time appearances rolled into one. In the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm, in addition to the regular shot put, javelin and discus events, there was also a two-handed version of each.
5. Rope Climbing
Unlike the previous entries, rope climbing was part of four different Olympic games, including the inaugural Modern Olympics Games of 1896 in Athens. At its high point in the 1924 Paris Olympics, it had seven competitors from nine nations.
4. Tug of War
This somewhat familiar sport, probably most often experienced on the playground as kids, was a regular competition, making five appearances in the Olympic Games from 1900 to 1920. In the 1904 St. Louis Games, the American teams (two of which were from the same St. Louis athletic club) swept the medals probably giving a new meaning to home field advantage. Four years later, at the 1908 London Games, Great Britain returned the favor by sweeping all three medals on their home turf. Interestingly, all three British teams were composed of police officers.
3. Skeleton (Cresta)
This may seem like a surprising entry to those out there who follow the Winter Games. Skeleton has been a regular sport in the Winter Olympics since 2002. For those not familiar Skeleton is similar to the luge except that the competitors ride face first and on their stomachs instead of feet first and on their backs. However, what makes this event so unusual is that until 2002, it was only included when the Winter Games took place in St. Moritz, Switzerland, apparently because they were the only one that had an actual Skeleton (or Cresta Run) track.
2. Live Pigeon Shooting
Unfortunately, this is disgusting event is exactly what it sounds like. Live pigeons were released one at a time and competitors tried to shoot as many in a row as possible. As soon as a competitor missed two birds, they were eliminated. Nearly 300 birds were shot and killed.
1. Ice Hockey and Figure Skating (Summer Olympics)
Before anyone starts calling foul and stating the obvious; that ice hockey and figure skating can hardly be considered unusual or surprising Olympic events, please continue reading. Certainly both of these sports have been the cornerstone sports of the Winter Olympic Games from the very beginning. So what makes these two obviously well-known Winter Olympic sports usual? Because both of these sports made their Olympic debut in the Summer Olympic Games.