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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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.