A lot of us love to go out in the cold and get active – snowshoeing, skiing, ice skating, sledding, hockey, curling, there are lots of winter sports.
One that used to be a big hit around this time of year? Competitive barrel jumping.
There was a great piece about this lost sport on Messy Nessy Chic recently.
In one sense, the name “competitive barrel jumping” says it all.
It was essentially a long jump on ice skates; the more barrels you could jump, the better.
And for decades, it was a huge draw at winter resorts in New York state as well as a popular feature on the ABC TV show “Wide World of Sports.”
But in another sense, calling barrel jumping a long jump on ice skates is really just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s important to note that jumping a bunch of barrels on skates first requires that the jumper get going really fast on those ice skates.
And if you’re going really fast on ice skates, and then jumping… the landing can be rough.
Jumpers pushed to make their sport an Olympic event, but when Olympic officials saw how many competitors fell hard on the ice after their jumps, they said no thanks.
And that was pretty much that for competitive barrel jumping.
Of course, they might have tried to change the sport a little so that it was not quite so dangerous and a little more accessible to the general public.
But in the Messy Nessy piece, author Luke J. Spencer quotes an organizer from the 1930s who said that at one point, they did try to make the landing area longer so jumpers were less likely to crash… and the jumpers said no thanks!
“These guys,” the organizer said of the barrel jumpers, “are wild men.”
Tomorrow night in Times Square, New York City will drop the big ball to ring in the new year.
But in Las Cruces, New Mexico, they’re having a slightly different kind of celebration: the 9th annual Chile Drop for New Year’s Eve.
The Wholesome Lost World of Competitive Barrel Jumping (Messy Nessy Chic)
Photo via Wikicommons