The History of Skiing

From the moment men first made their way up into Alpine mountains, among the sparsely located pine trees and virgin fields of fresh snow, there must have been at least one among them who wondered how to take advantage of the slippery substance, siding down the entire length of the mountain at breakneck speeds.  Cave paintings show humans on ski-like contraptions pushing themselves down slopes. Perhaps there was a primitive version of skiing during the ice age, we may never know for sure. One thing we do know is that the Viking warriors worshiped and venerated Gods associated with sliding down Scandinavian mountains upon magical sticks, and the Norwegians have been displaying their extreme skills on snow for centuries.

The History of SkiingIt’s commonly thought that those same Norwegians had a thirst for all things gold, heading to the USA when gold fever spread across the country in the 1800′s. These Norsemen took their winter sports with them to the mountains of Colorado and California, and were seen routinely speeding past prospectors on their crudely shaped but speedy skis. We can only imagine the look on the faces of the gold prospectors as a Norwegian sped past them on a pair of wooden sticks and shouted, “Good morning,” in Norwegian. Railroads were still forming across the country, folk wanted to stay in contact and stake their claims on a likely gold mine. Soon, all of the mountain men were creating ski’s of their own and making their way up and down mountains with little effort, perhaps with a supply sled outfitted with its own ski’s.

The adoption of ski’s moved from sport to travel and back to Nordic sport again in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. The gold rush had passed, folk were still using ski’s to get around the winter landscape and an air of competition was entering the minds of locals. People began resolving arguments by having a ski race, by placing obstacles on slopes and navigating them in the quickest time. More immigrants arrived from Austria and Scandinavia, excited at the prospect of taking part in such a familiar activity, one they thought left forever back home.

Resorts opened, Alpine themed towns were built and skiing became an instantly recognized sport around the mountains of America and Canada. Rich families headed for ski resorts instead of beaches, wanting to learn to ski instead of swimming on a Hawaiian beach. The competition heated up until world-class skiers were carving great swathes out of powdered snow, leaping over partially covered rocks and cutting between trees, obsessed with recording the fastest time down a popular ski slope. And today, skiing is a worldwide sport and popular activity for hardy amateurs. From Argentina to Canada, from Europe to Asia, ski enthusiasts bank and glide across pristine fields of fresh snow, living life to the fullest under the winter sun.

Donna Morgan

Donna Morgan

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