Today in 1988 the Winter Olympics began in Calgary, Alberta.

I was one of the millions of people who watched the best-known events, like figure skating and hockey.

But there were also plenty of eyes on one of that year’s demonstration sports, something known as ski ballet.

This was an actual sport that started developing in the 1960s and 70s.

In addition to the more convention competitive sports on skis – downhill, cross-country, ski jumping – people were pushing the boundaries of what’s broadly known as freestyle skiing.

For some skiers this meant doing really big jumps, or spins in mid-air.

Others wanted to do something more artistic: a routine set to music, like a figure skater or a gymnast.

Over time that became known as ballet skiing, or ski ballet.

Influential people in the skiing world started hosting exhibitions featuring two minute ski ballet routines, sometimes solo, sometimes in pairs.

They might include graceful dance moves, complicated tricks, even flips over ski poles.

And it started winning more fans and more attention: there was even a ski ballet-themed TV ad for Chapstick at one point.

By the 1980s the International Olympic Committee had taken notice and added ski ballet to the list of demonstration sports; it won fans in Calgary and made a return appearance at the 1992 Games in Albertville.

But that was pretty much it.

Reportedly there wasn’t a lot of agreement on just how you judged a ski ballet routine.

Plus, a sport needs to be played by enough people in enough countries that it’s worth having an Olympic competition.

That can be hard to do.

And over time, other winter sports that had some of the same appeal as ski ballet, like moguls and aerials, ended up as official Olympic contests.

Ski ballet dropped off the radar.

But a couple years ago some clips from those Olympic demonstrations started making the rounds online, introducing ski ballet to people who may not have even known about it.

And you could sum up the reaction on social media in one sentence: they should bring this back!

What kind of games did people play in ancient times?

Archaeologist Veronica Waweru has some idea.

She’s been studying several sites in Kenya where she found multiple rows of shallow pits dug into the earth.

She says they were likely used to play an early version of mancala.

But would they have tried ski ballet if it had been around back then?

Cool Down and Reminisce over the Wonders of Ski Ballet (Messy Nessy Chic)

Ancient ‘Arcade’ of Games Played for Thousands of Years Discovered (Newsweek)

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Photo by Andjam79 via Flickr/Creative Commons