Skijoring’s solitary Olympic appearance

Pierre de Coubertin was an interested spectator at the skijoring competitions organised as part of the Nordic Games he attended in the early years of the 20th century. Suitably impressed by what he saw, in 1901 he wrote an article for the Revue Olympique in which he advocated the inclusion of several winter sports on the Games programme and expressed a particular interest in skijoring, which eventually made its Olympic debut at St Moritz 1928, albeit as a demonstration sport.

Picture by IOC

Originating from Scandinavia, skijoring is a sport in which competitors wear skis and clutch reins attached to a wooden harness fitted onto one or more horses, ponies or dogs. The sport can take various forms, namely precision-based events, obstacle races or flat races around an oval track.

It was the latter of these three formats that was chosen for the skijoring competition at St Moritz 1928, held on a frozen lake and with horses doing the pulling.

The race was staged on day two of the Games, with a large crowd gathering to see Rudolf Wettstein, Bibi Torriani and Muckenbrün earn a clean sweep for Switzerland. The result was not included in the official Games report, however, and the medals awarded were not tallied in the overall medal count.

Though the sport never appeared on the Olympic programme again, silver medallist Torriani’s association with the Winter Games continued. One of Switzerland’s greatest ice hockey players, he won a bronze with the Swiss team at St Moritz 1928 and again at the 1948 Winter Games, which were also held at the Swiss resort. He then pursued a career in luge, landing a world championship silver medal in 1957.


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