History

“Skio” – that’s Old Norse which means “a stick of wood”.  This word is said to be the precursor of the word ski, and this is where we can trace the colorful history of skiing.  The oldest such stick of wood ever discovered is a 4,500-year old wooden version of the ski.  There is also some evidence, such as drawings on rocks and in caves that skiing was invented long before that time.

And since necessity is the mother of invention, the stick of wood came to be because of the need of more efficient transport for activities such as hunting during those cold winter months.  In the course of using the skis for transport, the people realized how much fun it can be.  Eventually, what was once a necessity became a highly popular and supremely enjoyable sport.  And this was, some say, all because of the people from Telemark, Norway.  Their enduring contributions to the world of skiing include jumps, the Telemark turn, as well as the Christiana (or known now as Christie) turns.  Even until now, we still see versions of these classic skiing moves.

The first-ever ski competition or organized event involved a version of cross-country racing and these events were begun at the beginning of the 1800s.  Today, the Nordic system, which was used then, is very much in use during organized events.  A modernized version of the telemark was developed by Sondre Norheim in the 1850s.  He also improved on the skis by adding a birch binding, which made sure that his boots stay firmly in place while he was skiing.  History recognizes Norheim as the father of modern skiing.  Another skiing enthusiast, Matthias Zdarsky, also made sturdier and firmer bindings.

Skiing soon spread to Norway’s European neighbors.  And in 1924, the first-ever Winter Olympic Games was held in Chamonix, France.  It so happened that the 1924 Olympics were held in Paris.  Thus, Chamonix requested that skiing (as part of a winter sports festival), be recognizes as an official Olympic event.  However, the petition was not approved but the events were eventually established as the Winter Olympic Games.

Other techniques soon were developed for use on varied types of terrain.  While the Telemark turn was useful for level terrain, it proved to be inadequate for near-vertical drops.  Thus, the technique of Alpine skiing was developed – this involved disciplines such as the slalom and the downhill skiing.  The precursor of downhill skiing is attributed to Zdarsky.

Then, after World War II, skiing became even more popular as Switzerland and Austria built the first ski resorts.  Gradually, other disciplines were developed – there is the Giant Slalom, the Super G, and many others.

Of course, the stick of wood became more and more technologically advanced, so skiers today enjoy more speed and increased safety.  Millions of enthusiasts have since taken great pleasure in the sport.

And that is the history of skiing in a nutshell.

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