The „Bøla Man‟ the „Rødøy Man‟ The birth of skiing is commonly associated with the Norwegians.Rock carvings of skiers have been found in Norway that date back to 4000 B.C.
There are reports about the use of skis among soldiers as far back in time as the Middle Ages. Skiers appear in several places in The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway. At the beginning of the 13th century, civil war raged in Norway.In 1206, Håkon Håkonsson, the two year old son of the king Birkebeiner, had to be brought to safety. The „two most ski-worthy men‟ were Torstein Skjelva and Skjervald Skrukka. They brought the king‟s son over the mountains between Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen.
Carta Marina by Olaus Magnus (1539)Source: Wikipedia
Olaus Magnus. Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus . Liber Undecimus. De Bellis Glacialibus – Cap. XXXVI. De onagris, seu alcibus, in niuosa glacie currentibus (1555).
Olaus Magnus. Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus . Liber Primus. De ritu gentium et natura rerum ac usu bellandi populorum Septentrionalium – Cap. iiiI. De Scricfinnia (1555).
Norwegian Companies of ski troops were formed around 1750 in Trondheim and Kongvingen. And the very first skiing competition were held by the military in 1767.
Other countries like France, Italy and Switzerland followed the Norwegian initiative.In 1871 Captain Francois Clerc assigned in the Infantery Alpine 159 Regiment located in Briançon incorporates skis for the troops equipment. Austrian Companies of ski troops were formed in 1892.
Sondre Norheim (June 10, 1825–March 9, 1897) was the pioneerof modern skiing. Born and raised in Morgedala small village centrally located in the county of Telemark,southern Norway.Sondre loved the winter hills of Morgedal. As often as he could,he put on his skis made of pine, which his father had made for him.
He became a master of downhill skiing, both in terms of skillsand in developing equipment.Sondre has been credited for having invented the curved skis,to facilitate turns, the bindings with stiff heel bands made of willow,the Telemark turn and the Christiania turn.
Sondre contributed to a new and different way ofusing the skis.This is why he has been called the Father of ModernSkiing. “Modern” is referring to the use of skis as arecreation activity and in sports. “Sondre generated enthusiasm and excitement far beyond Morgedal.He brought something new to the nation and the world. He has made Norwegian words like ski and slalom known worldwide” HM King Olav of Norway (1988)
In 1888, the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his fellows became the first men to cross Greenland on skis. The book from this expedition was translated into severallanguages, and played an important role in promoting skiing as a sport across Europe. In his book Nansen describes skiing as “the sport of sports”.
At the end of the XIXth Mathias Zdarsky (1856-1940), an Austrian skiinstructor, developed the ski technique known as Stem. His teaching, collected in a book titled Lilienfelder Skilauf-Technik (The Lilienfeld Skiing Technique) allowing hundreds of Austrian people to control the downhill ski.
Mathias Zdarsky reduced the skis size to facilitate the turns and incorporated the first metallic bindings.
Unfortunately many skiers were not aware about the new technique.The continuous falls of the Alpine tourists inspired Reginald Cleaver illustrations of his winter sports book published in London in 1911.
Subsequently, another Austrian, Georg Bilgeri (1873-1934) added the idea of usingtwo poles. This Austrohungarian Army Coronel published the new technique in 1910 in the work called Der Alpine Skilauf (Alpine Skiing). The new technique was especially popular in military circles.
At the beginning of the XXth Century women started to practice ski.
Some years had to pass to see the first women dressed with trousers.
The history and the development of sportive ski are, without a doubt, closelyassociated with the eminent Austrian skiing pioneer Hannes Schneider (1890-1955). Hannes Schneider laid the foundation stone for today‟s global “ski school” upon his invention of the Stem Christiania –a stem turn- and his “Arlberg technique”.
In the twentys Arnold Fanck films contributed to the popularity of Hannes Schneider and the Arlberg Technique. In 1926 Fanck and Schneider published the “Wunder desSchneeschuhs (The Miracle of the Snowshoe). Ein System des richtigen Skilaufens und seine Anwendung im alpinen Geländelauf “.
White Ecstasy –the first skiing film to be set to music- was made in 1931 on theArlberg. It was also Hannes Schneider‟s last major film role in which he played himself as a ski instructor. The plot was a really simpleone: a “cheeky little madam from Berlin” (played by Leni Riefenstahl) learns how to ski at Schneider‟s ski school, and in the subsequent fox chase, her and Schneider are chased by 50 pursuers. Further rolesare played by the young Lothar Ebersberg, Guzzi Lantschner and Walter Riml, plus Rudi Matt, the most talented actor amongst all the Arlberg ski instructors.
In 1924 Chamonix (France) organized the first Olympic Winter Games including the ski jumping and the Nordic Combined.
In 1927, Arnold Lunn visited the Arlberg in order to become acquainted with Hannes Schneider and the skiing technique he knew from the films by Arnold Fanck. Lunn‟s visit to the Arlberg in 1927 had far-reaching consequences:together with Hannes Schneider, he planned the first Arlberg-Kandahar competition for 1928: it developed into a marked success. This competition was also the first alpine combination of downhill skiing and slalom.
From 1931 on, the competition was held alternately in Mürren and St Anton. Mürren
The 1936 Games were held in the twin Bavarian towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen Alpine skiing events were included for the first time.
Emile Allais was world champion at Chamonix in 1937. He won the Downhill, Slalom and Combined events. He created the Ecole Francaise de Ski wich taught innovative French methods characterised by parallel turns.
In 1955, Austrian Stefan Kruchenhauser presented in the III Interski Congress hosted in Val d‟Isere (France) a new technique: the Wedeln. In 1956 the new technique was used by skiers throughout the world.In october the american Ski Magazine included an article under the title: Ski the new way.
The last ski technique revolution came in the Interski Congress hosted in Beitostolen (Norway) in 1999: Carving Skiing
The 2003 Interski reunion holded in Crans Montana (Switzerland) showed the changes in the ski world. It was the time for telemark, carving and snowboard; new techniques for search of joy and freedom.