Activities

A brief history of skiing

Millions of people flock to snow-covered mountains each and every year to experience the thrill of skiing. Resort towns cater to men, women and children who enjoy cascading along the fresh powder to test their skills on the slopes.

Skiing is no longer relegated only to those resorts that have fresh snow. Resorts with the ability to manufacture snow can now cater to skiers regardless of the weather.

Skiing can trace its origins to what is now Norway and Sweden. Cave paintings dating back to 5000 B.C. illustrate a skier with one pole in the Nordland region of Norway, while remnants of a primitive ski were found in Hoting, Sweden. The term "ski" was actually derived from the Norse word "skio," meaning "split piece of wood." It is generally believed skiing evolved from snowshoeing, and the ski poles were developed from the walking sticks snowshoers used for balance.

Skiing was initially a method of efficient transportation over the snow. The first skis were likely similar to the cross-country skis used today. Skiing as a sport came much later, and it wasn't until the mid-  to late-nineteenth century that downhill skiing developed. Various engineers created bindings that enabled skiers to ski without the risk of losing their skis. Sondre Norheim of Norway is credited as one of the first developers of a downhill ski that enabled him to win the first Norwegian downhill competition. Mathias Zdarsky and Hannes Schneider were two other innovators that made subtle changes to Norheim's designs, developing more modern skis and techniques.

Skiing became more competitive when the first slalom races took place in 1921 in Switzerland. Skiing was later included as a sport at the 1924 Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix, France, where ski jumping and cross-country skiing were introduced as events. Jacob Tullin Thams of Norway was the first Olympic ski jumping champion. The silver medal was awarded to Narve Bonna of Norway and the bronze went to Anders Haugen of the United States.