Unlike most dropped Olympic sports, which tended to last for one or two Games on average, tug-of-war actually had a pretty decent run. It started at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris as part of the wider track and field set of events and lasted for five Games until 1920. During the first competition, a mixed team consisting of Danish and Swedish men took home the gold medal. Countries could also enter more than one team, leading to a sweep of all three medals by the Americans in 1904 and by the British in 1908.
Croquet and roque
Croquet was featured at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, with the field consisting of nine French players and one Belgian. Not surprisingly, the French players claimed all the medals in the three events. The sport was replaced at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis by roque, an American variant of the game played on a hard, smooth surface. The only roque entrants in the competition were Americans. Neither croquet nor its American cousin were ever contested at the Olympics again.
The horseback sport was first introduced as an Olympic sport in Paris in 1900 with four mixed teams of men from Mexico, England, Spain, France and the United States due to a shortage of skilled players. The sport was not included in the 1904 Games in St. Louis due to the cost of shipping horses thousands of miles to the American Midwest, but returned for the 1908, 1920, 1924 and 1936 Games, with Argentina winning gold the last two times it was contested.
A high-speed game involving throwing and catching a ball off a wall using a curved basket or other tool, pelota was only an official Olympic sport during the 1900 Paris Games. The sport is also known as Basque pelota and is played in some parts of America in a version known as jai alai. In 1900, a two-man team from Spain won gold with a French team taking silver. The sport made a return of sorts in 1992 when it was featured as a demonstration sport in Barcelona.
Motorboating appeared only once, at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. The three races at the Games were each composed of five laps around an eight nautical mile course, with France winning gold in the open class and Great Britain taking golds in the races for boats 6.5 to 8 meters in length and under 60 feet in length. The water motorsports events were done away with after 1908 when the International Olympic Committee decided that the Olympics was not intended for motorized competition.
Lacrosse was only played at two Olympic Games: in 1904 in St. Louis and in 1908 in London. Canadian teams dominated the sport during its short Olympic lifespan, winning gold and bronze in 1904 and gold again in 1908. The sport made a return as a demonstration sport in 1928, 1932 and 1948, but has not been an official medal event at the Olympics since 1908.
The game was originally intended to be part of the first modern Olympics in 1896, but was dropped due to a lack of participants. Instead, it made its debut in 1900 in Paris. However, that first appearance would also be its last, with only teams from Great Britain and France competing. Neither team was nationally selected, with the British team featuring a touring club and the French team comprised mainly of British expatriates living in Paris. The only match of the tournament was won by 158 runs by Great Britain.
While medals were awarded in Alpinism at the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and again in 1936, there were actually no events held during the Olympics themselves. Instead, the medals were presented to individuals or groups who had achieved the most notable feat in mountaineering since the previous Games. The first medals were presented to members of the unsuccessful 1922 British expedition to Mount Everest, including seven posthumous honors to expedition members who had died in an avalanche.
Live pigeon shooting
Yes, shooting live pigeons was once an OIympic sport, albeit only for the 1900 Summer Games in Paris. Competitors had to kill as many live pigeons as possible, with the birds being released one at a time from "traps" in front of the shooters. Participants were eliminated once they missed two birds. Nearly 300 birds were killed during the competition. After the 1900 games, the pigeons were replaced with clay targets.
Rugby union was first played as an Olympic sport in 1900, with only France, Great Britain and Germany competing. France beat both the British and German teams to claim gold, but no third match was held. Instead, the other two teams shared the silver medal. The sport was also played in 1908 in London, in 1920 in Antwerp, and in 1924 in Paris, with the United States capturing gold medals the final two years. Rugby will be making a return to the Games at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, with the addition of rugby sevens, a seven-man version of rugby union.
The men's rope climb was one of eight gymnastics events included at the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, Greece. The event originally consisted of competitors climbing a 14-meter long rope suspended from a frame, with time and style used to rank those competitors who made it to the top. A total of five competitors entered, with Greeks Nikolaos Andriakopoulos and Thomas Xenakis making it to the top to claim gold and silver medals, respectively. The sport continued as an Olympic event in 1904, 1924 and 1932, before being dropped.
Special figures figure skating
Held only once, at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, England, the event saw skaters using balance and control to trace patterns on the ice with the blade of one ice skate. Nikolai Panin (pictured) of Russia won the event, becoming Russia's first Olympic champion. Special figures was one of four figure skating events held during the Summer Games in London, the first time any type of winter sport was introduced to the Olympic Games, 16 years before the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France.
Military patrol featured cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering and rifle shooting, and was a precursor to the biathlon, which would become an Olympic sport in 1960. Military patrol was first featured at the first Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, France, as a medal event, with Switzerland winning gold, Finland taking silver and France earning bronze. Six teams started the event, but only four finished, with Italy and Poland withdrawing due to bad conditions and Czechoslovakia coming in fourth.The event was also demonstrated in 1928, 1936 and 1948.
Obstacle and underwater swimming
The 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, witnessed the first and last time obstacle swimming and underwater swimming events were held as part of the Games. The obstacle event featured three obstacles throughout a 200-meter course, with swimmers having to climb over the first two (a pole and a row of boats) and swim under the third (another row of boats.) Australia's Frederick Lane beat out Austria's Otto Wahle by less than two seconds to win gold. In the underwater swimming event, France's Charles de Venville swam 60 meters underwater over 68.4 seconds to capture the gold.
While golf was a part of the Summer Games in 1900 and 1904, it hasn't been an Olympic sport since. That will change with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the sport will return as a medal event and be open to the world's best professional golfers.
This event was held only once, at the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, Germany, and featured 14 pilots from seven countries (Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Germany and Austria) piloting bungee-launched gliders. While it was only a demonstration sport and not a medal event, it had been approved for the 1940 Summer Olympics scheduled for Tokyo, which were not played because of World War II.
The ski ballet event, later renamed acroski, was demonstrated in 1988 in Calgary and again in 1992 in Albertville, France, but has never been a medal sport and hasn't been demonstrated since. It featured a choreographed routine of flips, rolls, leg crossings, jumps and spins performed on a smooth slope. The International Ski Federation ceased all formal competition in the sport after 2000.
This sport, which features a person on skis being pulled by dogs, horses, or a form of mechanized transportation such as a snowmobile, was featured as a demonstration sport in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1928, with horses doing the pulling. The competition took place on a frozen lake and was swept by Swiss athletes. It would never again appear at the Olympics as either a medal or demonstration sport.
A sled-dog race was held as a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. Five Canadian and seven American teams of six dogs per sled competed in the event, which consisted of two runs over a 25.1 mile course. Canadian Emile St. Godard won gold, with American Leonhard Seppala winning silver and Canadian Shorty Russick earning bronze.
Bandy, a sport popular in Alpine countries that is basically hockey on a soccer field-sized ice rink with teams of 11 players and a goalie each using a ball instead of a puck, was a demonstration sport at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway. However, only three teams played the sport at the Games: Finland, Norway and Sweden. Bandy was proposed as a new medal sport for the 2014 Winter Olympics but rejected by the International Olympic Committee.
Speed skiing, in which skiers speed downhill in a straight line as quickly as possible, was demonstrated at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. During the competition, Michael Prufer, a 31-year-old French medical doctor, improved on his own 1988 world record by reaching 229.299 kilometers per hour. Finland's Tarja Mulari achieved a top speed of 219.245 km/h, also breaking the previous women's world record. The event was marred by the death of Swiss speed skier Nicolas Bochatay, who died on the morning of the speed skiing finals after colliding with a snow grooming vehicle while skiing on a public slope outside the racing area.
This variant of the Summer Games' modern pentathlon was included as a demonstration event at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The event consisted of cross-country skiing, shooting, downhill skiing, fencing and horse riding. This was the first and last time the event was held. Fourteen competitors took part in the event, with Swedes Gustaf Lindh, William Grut and Bertil Haase sweeping the top three spots. Grut would go on to win a gold medal in modern pentathlon (fencing, swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting and cross-country running) at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.