The History of Skiing
The history of skiing is long, complex, and very inspiring. Skiing can be traced back to Norway and Russia during the Ice Age.
The sport of skiing has a long and complex history that may not ever be fully revealed. Archeologists have discovered rock drawings depicting skiing over 5000 years old in Norway and Russia. Many researchers believe that skis were developed and used in Asia and Europe throughout the Ice Age period. Historians attribute the development of ski poles to the spear and bow that was used for hunting.
Sondre Norheim, a pioneer from Norway, is often referred to as the inventor of modern skiing. In the 1860s, Norheim developed a special foot binding that enabled skiers to progress forward without worry of losing their skis. Following this, in 1870, Norheim developed a more flexible ski in order to allow quicker turning and better control in the snow. This story was often mentioned during the 1952 Olympic Winter Games held in Oslo.
There are several defining moments throughout the history of skiing. In 1875, the very first ski club and ski school were developed in Oslo. In 1888 Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen made the first crossing of Greenland while traveling exclusively on skis. This trek led to much publicity for the sport of skiing throughout Europe and the United States. Many wealthy Europeans took an interest to skiing during the turn of the century. Packaged ski holidays took place all over Switzerland in 1903 to cater to these wealthy aristocrats and their families. Competitive skiing began in America a few years later with the founding of the National Ski Association in Ishpeming, Michigan. The National Ski Association is referred to today as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
Another Norwegian contributed to an important part of the evolution of skiing. Bror With developed a unique rat-trap style, lightweight toe binding that has essentially been used in cross-country ski events ever since. Bror named this binding “Rottefella” which translates to “rat trap”.
A year following this development, in 1929, the first resort-based ski school was opened in the United States. Katherine Peckett opened up this school in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. It is no wonder then that a few years later in 1932; both ski-jumping and cross-country competitions were included in the winter Olympics held at Lake Placid, New York. Two years after these Olympics, lighter aluminum skis were invented in France.
In 1936 the first overhead chairlift was built in Sun Valley, Idaho. President Roosevelt himself formed the “10th Mountain Division” in the late 1930s. These men were specially trained in skiing combat for the United States armed forces. The first signs of artificial snow were spotted at Grossinger’s, in New York State as well as in various areas of Connecticut. Major ski companies such as Plymold and Sailer began marketing more modern fiberglass skis and plastic boots throughout the 1960s. These creations are the ones we are familiar with seeing today.
Ski companies and resorts struggled during the 1980s due to high interest rates and thus many of them consolidated into the larger companies we see thriving today. Snowboarding appeared in the late 1980s and helped revive the youth interest in skiing culture. The designs of the snowboard even helped ski designers find a new way to implement wider bases to their skis. This allowed for greater stability and helped many newcomers grasp the basics of the sport.