10 Olympic Sports That Are Now Extinct

It’s always excit­ing to see which sports get added to the Olympic ros­ter, but what about those that are shed in order to make room for the new?

You might be sur­prised at some of the sports that were once pres­ti­gious enough to be includ­ed in the Olympic Games. Tug-of-war? Ski bal­let? Why not!

It turns out that Tug-of-War was once tak­en pret­ty seri­ous­ly. The sport, part of the track and field pro­gram, was includ­ed in six dif­fer­ent Olympic Games through­out the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. Teams con­sist­ed of eight ath­letes per side, and vic­to­ry was declared when one team had pulled the rope six feet. Great Britain and U.S. claimed the most victories.

Ski Bal­let
Spins, jumps, crossovers and flips: what could be more grace­ful than a chore­o­graphed per­for­mance with two planks affixed to your feet? Sad­ly, ski bal­let nev­er made it past the demon­stra­tion sport stage. After attempts in the 1988 and 1992 Win­ter Olympic Games, ski bal­let enthu­si­asts even­tu­al­ly gave up the fight. The sport will for­ev­er live on in the clas­sic ski bum film, Hot Dog.

Club Swing­ing
You’ve prob­a­bly seen jug­glers toss bowl­ing-pin like clubs into the air on a street cor­ner some­where. Believe it or not, a sim­i­lar sport, club swing­ing, was part of the 1904 and 1932 Olympics. Unlike jug­gling, the clubs in this sport did not leave the hands. They were whirled and swung around quick­ly in an elab­o­rate rou­tine, not entire­ly unlike today’s rhyth­mic gymnastics.

While the thought of cro­quet might con­jure up images of a jovial fam­i­ly pic­nic, it was actu­al­ly demon­strat­ed at the 1900 Olympic Games. The sto­ry goes that a whop­ping ten ath­letes par­took in the competition—nine of whom were from France (the tenth was a lone Bel­gian). Shock­ing­ly, the French swept the gold medals for all sev­en cro­quet events.

Per­haps the least-cre­ative­ly named sport, Rack­ets is a lot like squash, with a few minor dif­fer­ences, like the use of a longer rack­et. It was part of the 1908 Olympic Games, but the only coun­try rep­re­sent­ed was Great Britain. It did not make the cut in the fol­low­ing years.

Pow­er Boat­ing
Sure­ly, the vehi­cles used in the 1908 Olympic Games pow­er boat­ing events were a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than those we have today. Max­i­mum speeds topped out at rough­ly 19 miles per hour, and events con­sist­ed of the eight-meter cat­e­go­ry, the 60-foot cat­e­go­ry, and the open class. The events took place in the UK, and poor weath­er can­celled six of the nine races. The sport failed to make it to future Olympics games.

Water Ski­ing
In 1972, water ski­ing appeared as a demon­stra­tion sport. Despite the vari­ety of events—including fig­ure skiing—the sport failed to catch on, unlike the oth­er demon­stra­tion sport that year: bad­minton. Not ready to call it a day, water ski­ing reap­peared in both the 1988 and 1992 Sum­mer Olympic Games as a demon­stra­tion sport. Alas, nei­ther of these sub­se­quent attempts were successful.

Rope Climb­ing
Is there a gym class activ­i­ty more despised than rope climb­ing? In 1896, 1904, 1906, 1924 and 1932, ath­letes shim­mied their way up long ropes (rang­ing in length from rough­ly eight to 15 meters, depend­ing on the year) using only their hands. It wasn’t just a time tri­al: ath­letes were also judged based on their style. In its inau­gur­al year, only two of the ath­letes actu­al­ly man­aged to get to the top of the rope.

Swim­ming Obsta­cle Race
If you were the cham­pi­on of the swim­ming obsta­cle races at your sum­mer camp, just think—had you been born in anoth­er decade, you could have been a dec­o­rat­ed ath­lete! Swim­ming obsta­cle races were part of the 1900 Olympic Games and involved an elab­o­rate course in France’s Seine Riv­er. Sta­tions includ­ed climb­ing over a pole, and plow­ing over and under rows of boats. Aus­tralia took the gold, in case you were wondering.

Solo Syn­chro­nized Swim­ming
Yes, you read that cor­rect­ly. Solo syn­chro­nized swim­ming was an Olympic sport from 1984 to 1992, mak­ing it one of the more mod­ern extinct Olympic Games. What is the swim­mer syn­chro­nized to, you ask? Sup­pos­ed­ly, it’s to the music—not to oth­er swim­mers. The two- and eight-per­son syn­chro­nized swim­ming events live on, but the solo event is now in the past.

Sad to have missed out on some of these sports? Don’t give up hope just yet: some sports, like archery and ten­nis, were once removed from the Olympic ros­ter, only to be added back on in lat­er years.