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  • Yoshi Wickenhaeuser

The history of skiing

Skiing is a sport that many enjoy today during the winter months, but it hasn’t always been such a popular sport and hobby. For some it was a way to survive. In this article I will talk about the history and the different types of skiing.

Skiing is thought to come from the indigenous people of Scandinavia, the Sami, who used it as a way of transport through the deep snow in the winter or to hunt around 8000 years ago. The word ‘’ski’’ comes from the Norwegian term ‘’log’’ or ‘’split wood’’ as skis were originally made of wood. Later in the 1700s skiing was used for military purposes in Scandinavia. The Norwegian army held its first competition of skiing down a slope whilst shooting in the 1760s but only in the 1800s was skiing considered a sport and free time activity. Skiing was then brought to the Alps in the late 1800s. Ski clubs were founded in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Scandinavian students taught what they had learned and some schools started having skiing lessons instead of gymnastics. The first ski lift was built in 1908 in the black forest in Germany. It was powered by a water mill wheel and was 280 meters long with a height incline of 32 meters. However, skiing only became popular in 1924 in the Chamonix Olympics where it was first introduced. Downhill skiing was slowly becoming popular till the point that it was added in the winter games in 1936. After World War one, many tourists picked up skiing as the Alps were more accessible due to the railway lines that had been built. In the 1950 many ski lifts and slopes were built and the first ski with metal edges was invented. At the time around 5 million people had started to ski. The number rapidly increased to 35 million in the next 25 years. In 1962 the first fibreglass ski was created but they were mostly replaced by aluminium skis by the late 1960s. Since then, skiing has spread around the globe. You can find ski resorts in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the USA and in the south american Andes.

There are many types of ways to ski, from cross-country to freestyle skiing. On of the oldest ways to ski is telemark skiing which was invented in Telemark, Norway. It is when you ski down a slope but with only the tip of the foot attached to the ski. The first however is cross-country skiing which was first used as a way of transport but evolved into a sport and hobby. Cross-country skiing is similar to telemark as they both are only attached to the ski with the front of the foot. One of the more popular types of skiing is alpine skiing or downhill. In alpine skiing you slide down a snow-covered slope. Alpine skiers are attached with the whole foot to the ski and they have sharp edges to help turning or losing grip on ice. The opposite of alpine skiing is backcountry skiing. This when you ski of the slopes. Backcountry skiing is however only a broad term and there are different ways to ski backcountry. A less practiced type is freestyle. Freestyle skiing is a modern way to ski and is all about jumps, rail, halfpipes or anything that gets you in the air.

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