Snow skiing is an international winter sport. It is also one of the most watched events at every winter World Olympics. Not surprisingly, skiing was a means of transportation long before it became a popular sport and competition event.
“Ski” is a derivation of the original translation and means “stick of wood.” Skis are believed to have evolved from snowshoes and were used extensively in northern Europe and Asia as long as 5,000 years ago. The first evidence of skis as bones from large animals was found in Norway and Switzerland, and the oldest recorded ski dating back to 3200 BC was discovered in Sweden in 1924. Evidence of skis being used during this period has also been found in the Sayan Mountains of Asia.
There were originally three different types of skis that were used primarily for cross-country travel. The Fennoscandian ski has a horizontal toe-piece binding that was often covered with fur. This ski was the forerunner to the Telemark ski. The second design, the eastern Siberian ski, was a thin board that had a vertical four-hole binding. There were also two different types of ski pole. The first was a walking stick that was used for balance. The second type of pole was made from a spear or a bow and had some degree of flexibility. When two of these poles were used, the skier was able to travel at higher speed.
Sondre Norheim of Telemark, Norway is regarded as the father of modern skiing – at least in Norway. He is credited with inventing the “birch” binding that allowed skiers to ski without the risk of loosing their skis. In 1870 Norheim is believed to have designed a short curved flexible ski that made it easier to turn in soft snow. However, there is little evidence to support the claims of Norheim’s inventions because most of them were already in existence.
Ski-jumping and cross-country skiing became official events at the 1932 Olympics at Lake Placid, NY and in 1936, downhill and combined slalom skiing were add as events at the Olympics held in Germany.