Skiing can be a means of transport, a recreational activity or a competitive winter sport in which the participant uses skis to glide on snow.
The word ski comes from the Old Norse word “skíð” which means stick of wood or ski.
After the last ice age, Stone Age hunters began strapping long pieces of wood to their feet to travel farther and faster over snow in pursuit of the game that flourished across Europe and Asia.
Although modern skiing has evolved from beginnings in Scandinavia, 10,000 year old wall paintings suggest use of skis in the Xinjiang region of what is now China.
The world’s oldest skis were discovered in Russia, near Lake Sindor and date to 6000 BC.
The earliest Scandinavian examples of skiing date to 5000 BC with primitive carvings, which depict a skier with one pole, found in Rødøy in the Nordland region of Norway.
Originally purely utilitarian, starting in the mid-1800s skiing became a popular recreational activity and sport, becoming practiced in snow-covered regions worldwide, and providing a market for the development of ski resorts and their related communities.
Nordic, or classic, skiing consists of techniques and events that evolved in the hilly terrain of Norway and the other Scandinavian countries. The modern Nordic events are the cross-country races (including a relay race) and ski-jumping events.
One of the first competitions was a cross-country skiing race at Tromsø, Norway, in 1843.
Like most of the Nordic skiing disciplines, the first ski jumping competitions were held in Norway in the 19th century, although the evidence of ski jumping in the late 18th century exist. The recorded origins of the first ski jump traces back to 1808, when Olaf Rye reached 9,5 meters (31 feet).
By the start of the 20th century, a second upstart style of skiing competition had joined the older established cross-country skiing races and ski-jumping contests of Nordic skiing. The downhill races of this Alpine skiing, developed in the mountainous terrain of the Alps in central Europe.
Modern Alpine competitive skiing is divided into four races: slalom, giant slalom, supergiant slalom (super-G), and downhill — each of which is progressively faster and has fewer turns than its predecessor on the list.
In January 1924, the First Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix takes place. The Olympics offered a particular boost to skiing, a sport that would make enormous strides within the next decade. At Chamonix, Norway won all but one of the nine skiing medals.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) is formed in 1924. World championships sanctioned by the FIS have been held in Nordic events since 1925 for men and since 1954 for women. World championships have been held in Alpine skiing since 1931, with men and women competing separately.
The FIS recognized freestyle skiing in 1980 and organized a World Cup for the sport that year. Other sports that have gained FIS recognition include speed skiing, grass skiing (skiing on grass, using a type of skates instead of skis), and telemark (a type of downhill skiing in which the skier’s heel is not bound to the ski, as in cross-country skiing).
Speed skiing is the sport of skiing downhill in a straight line at as high a speed as possible, as timed over a fixed stretch of ski slope. As of 2016, the world record for skiing was 254.958 kilometers per hour (158.424 mph), set by Ivan Origone. Speed skiers wear dense foam fairings on their lower legs and aerodynamic helmets to increase streamlining.
Stefan Kraft holds the official record for the world’s longest ski jump with 253.5 meters (832 feet), set on the ski flying hill in Vikersund in 2017.
The longest time spent skiing non-stop is 202 hr 1 min by Nick Willey (Australia) at Thredbo, New South Wales, Australia on 2-10 September 2005. He skiied down the slopes 916 times travelling over 1,150 kilometers (715 miles) in the process.
There are almost 2,000 alpine skiing areas in the world, and the annual number of skier is around 400 million. Europe has the largest alpine market, with some 200 million skier days a year. The US is the second largest market, with roughly 80 million skier days a year.
The largest indoor ski facility is 43,919.7 square meters (472,747 square feet) and was achieved by Harbin Wanda City Investment Co. Ltd (China) in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, on 15 December 2017.
‘Skiing’ is the only six-letter word in the English language with a double ‘i’ exactly in the middle.
St. Bernard of Menthon (or Bernard of Montjoux) is patron saint of mountain climbers and skiers. He became patron and protector of mountain climbers and skiers because of his four decades spent in missionary work throughout the Alps.
Norse mythology describes the god Ullr and the goddess Skaði hunting on skis, Ullr and Skaði has later been regarded as the god and godess of skiing and hunting.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyleis widely known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes. A little-known fact is that he also helped to make skiing popular in Switzerland. After returning from one of his ski trips in Norway, he brought with him some skis as he felt Switzerland had the perfect terrain for it.
Astronauts heading to the Moon should learn the art of cross-country skiing, a scientist who flew on the last lunar Apollo mission claims. Harrison Schmitt, part of the 1972 Apollo 17 crew, said it would allow them to explore faster and more easily.
North Korea, not known for its winter sports or tourist industry, has opened a high-end ski resort in 2014 in the country’s eastern mountains.