The Weird World of Vintage Sports

British Pathé has released an interesting collection of vintage newsreel clips highlighting early experiments in hybrid sports. Some of the feats are daring, others merely silly. All are fun to watch.

Newsreels of this type were an important part of the movie-going experience in the first half of the 20th century, often featuring coverage of news, entertainment, culture and sports. Some reels were packaged into regularly appearing “cinemagazines” like Pathé Pictorial, a moving-picture analogue of the illustrated magazines of the day.

The reel above, shot in Bavaria in 1955, exposes the “Most Dangerous Sport in the World.” Motor skiing, also known as “motorized skijoring,” involves skiiers being pulled at high speeds over ice and snow by cars or motorcycles. You can scroll down to watch a few more of our favorites, or access the whole collection on YouTube, at the British Pathé Sporting History channel.

Cycle Skating, Paris, 1923:

Tennis on Ice, America, 1931:

Summer Skiing on the Boulevards, Paris, 1930:

Blimp Water Skiing, 1932:

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by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

  • Jason

    Fantastic! So what was British Pathe? An early TV channel?

  • Mike Springer

    Hi Jason,
    British Pathe was originally a branch of Pathe, a French company. They made newsreels, which were little featurettes shown in theaters before the main movie. Television basically killed the newsreel business. After 60 years of production, British Pathe stopped making newsreels in 1970.

  • Frederic

    Great !

    If you like – like me – vintage sports movies, don’t miss the “Mitchell & Kenyon” collection : fantastic English movies from 1901-03.

    Actually, these movies cover all aspects of Edwardian England : industry, transports, workers condition, entertainment…

    You could find a lot of them on YouTube, on British Film Institute channel :

    Early rugby movies are my favorites, pure magic!