The World Nomad Games sounds like an event straight out of a blockbuster film—this year’s competition boasted, among other things, eagle hunting, bone throwing, and horseback javelin-throwing. Action movie star Steven Seagal was even the guest at the opening ceremonies. At the actual Games, 2,000 athletes from 40 nations battled on the shores of Kyrgyzstan's Lake Issyk-Kul in Cholpon-Ata City.
The unique event has only been held since 2014, but it has grown considerably since that time. Now, there are 16 “ethnosports” (up from 10) that intend to showcase “the greatness of nomadic civilization” as well as “values of peace, culture and life of each ethnic group of nomadic world.”
Kok-boru is one of the Games’ most exotic bouts, in which teams riding on horses drag a roughly 70-pound goat carcass into a “taikazan,” a circular goal that looks like shallow well. Described as “rugby on horses,” it ends like any other game—whichever team deposits the carcass into the goal more times wins. The United States sent their first kok-boru team to the competition this year, headed by a former competitive rider. Although the eight-man squad came 7th out of 8 teams, they plan to go back for 2018.
Check out some scenes from the World Nomad Games, below.