After a brief description of how Soviet policy influenced and changed the centuries-old traditional Buriat sports holiday called Surkharban, this paper discusses the changes that this festivity has been undergoing since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Under Soviet rule, this annual holiday, earlier linked to religious rituals, became secularised. Party and State propaganda infiltrated the event in a variety of ways and international rules were adopted for the games. The last 15 years have seen a reversal of this process, leading to a stormy re-traditionalisation of the holiday in general and of the games in particular. However, this did not occur in a uniform manner and is still far from being completed. On the contrary, the author has been observing a wide spectrum of local variants and new changes every year. He analyses the ways in which Buriat sports games are performed and how these public events mirror the manifold socioeconomic and political developments in post-Soviet Buriatiia.