Drawings of people on skis have been found on rocks dating back about five thousand years indicating the beginning of the history of snow skiing. Scandinavians used long wooden skis for traveling and hunting at least twenty five hundred years ago.
Real skis have been found in Sweden and Norway that date back four thousand years or better. Skis have been used for military purposes starting with King Sverre of Norway. The first ski competitions, in the 1670's, were carried out by the Norwegian military.
The first known public, non military, ski competition was held in 1843 in northern Norway. The use of skis as a recreational activity began to take hold and more and more of these competitions were held in different parts of the country. The district of Telemark, Southern Norway, became one or the most popular locations for recreational skiing.
It was from this place, Telemark, that Sondre Norheim, known as the "father of modern Skiing", created the design that all modern day skis are derived from. It was in 1850 that the Telemark ski makers began using lighter and thinner skis accompanied with stiff bindings that secured the heel to the ski.
Over the years Scandinavians perfected what is now known as Nordic Skiing, or ski running. They started out on long skis and a single pole that was used for braking, steering and propulsion. This evolved into the two shorter poles in use today.
Immigrants to the U.S. and Canada brought there skiing skills along with them and somewhere around the beginning of the 19th century downhill skiing was born. In 1905 Ishpeming, Michigan hosted the first National Ski Tournament. At the same time and place the National Ski Association was founded.
Other important dates in the history of snow skiing include the year 1908 when the first cable was used to pull skiers up the slopes. This took place in Germany and was built by Robert Winterhalder. The International Ski Federation was established in 1924.
The 1932 Winter Olympics in New York were the first time ski jumping and cross country skiing were events. It was in 1936 that the winter games included the alpine events downhill and combined slalom. That was the same year the first overhead chairlift was put into use, in Sun Valley, Idaho.
It was during the 1950s and 60s that skiing became the popular recreation sport that it is today. Ski resorts sprang up along and the value of the real estate surrounding the slopes rose in value. Corporations like Vail Resorts and Aspen Ski Co. were born when the recessions of the early 1980s forced many smaller resort developers to consolidate.
During the 60s and 70s mogul skiing became popular. Along with it came freestyle skiing. During the same period a revival in Telemark skiing was taking place. Otherwise know as cross country skiing, it took skiers away from the resorts and slopes and out into the uncharted areas of the mountains.
It was in the 80s that snowboarding was born. With that came a whole new group of younger skiers and a new boost of revenue for the resort owners. Since then terrain parks have been built in all the major resorts, all of them claiming to be the best and most challenging. This sport continued to grow and is now an official Olympic event.
The history of snow skiing contains far to many names and dates to even think about putting on a single web page. Hopefully this will give you an idea how we got from drawings on rocks to the present day ski resorts like vail, and the winter Olympic ski events.
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