History of skiing

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Skiing, or traveling over snow on skis, has a history of almost five millennia. Although modern skiing has evolved from beginnings in Scandinavia, it may have been practised as early as 600 BC in Daxing'anling, in what is now China.[1]

Originally purely utilitarian, starting in the mid-1800s skiing became a popular recreational activity and sport, being practised around the world, and providing crucial economic support to purpose-built ski resorts and communities.[2]

Etymology and usage[edit]

The word ski comes from the Old Norse word "skíð" which means stick of wood or ski.[3] The word "ski" has a wider meaning in Norwegian, for instance "vedski" meaning "splitwood for making fire" or "skigard" meaning "a wooden split-rail fence".[4]

In modern Norwegian this word is usually pronounced [ˈʃiː]. English and French use the original spelling "ski", and modify the pronunciation. In Italian it is pronounced as in Norwegian, and the spelling is modified: "sci". German and Spanish adapt the word to their linguistic rules; "Schier" (however there is a form- Ski) and "esquí". Many languages make a verb form out of the noun, such as "to ski" in English, "skier" in French, "esquiar" in Spanish, "sciare" in Italian, or "schilaufen" (as above also Ski laufen or Ski fahren) in German which is not possible in Norwegian. In Swedish, a close relation to Norwegian, the word is "skidor" (pl.).

Finnish has its own ancient words for skis and skiing. In Finnish ski is suksi and skiing is hiihtää. The Sami also have their own words for skis and skiing. For example, the Lule Sami word for ski is "sabek" and skis are "sabega".

Early archaeological evidence[edit]

Roman mosaic at Villa Romana del Casale

The oldest information about skiing is based on archaeological evidence. A wooden ski dating from about 6300–5000 BC was found about 1,200 km northeast of Moscow at Lake Sindor.[5]

The Kalvträskskidan ski, found in Sweden dates to 3300 BCE, and the Vefsn Nordland ski, found in Norway is dated to 3200 BC.[6][7] Rock drawings in Norway dated at 4000 BC[8] depict a man on skis holding a stick. The earliest primitive carvings circa 5000 BCE depict a skier with one pole, located in Rødøy in the Nordland region of Norway. The first primitive ski was found in a peat bog in Hoting in Jämtland County in Sweden which dates back to 4500 or 2500 BCE. A ski excavated in Greenland is dated to 1010.[9]

In 1936, excavations at the Villa Romana del Casale, a 4th-century CE Roman Villa near Piazza Armerina in Sicily, by Giuseppe Cultrera revealed a mosaic floor which included a possible representation of a skier.[10] This is feasible, as Mount Etna on Sicily is snow- covered during the winter and early spring months.

In 2014 a ski complete with leather bindings emerged from a glacier in Reinheimen mountains, Norway. The binding is at a small elevated area in the middle of the 172 cm long and 14,5 cm wide ski. According to the report the ski is some 1300 years old. A large number of organic artifacts have been well preserved for several thousand years by the stable glaciers of Oppland county and emerge when glaciers recede.[11]

Skiing as transportation[edit]

Norse mythology describes the god Ullr and the goddess Skaði hunting on skis. Early historical evidence includes Procopius' (around CE 550) description of Sami people as skrithiphinoi translated as "ski running samis".[12] Birkely argues that the Sami people have practiced skiing for more than 6000 years, evidenced by the very old Sami word čuoigat for skiing.[13] Egil Skallagrimsson's 950 CE saga describes King Haakon the Good's practice of sending his tax collectors out on skis.[14] The Gulating law (1274) stated that "No moose shall be disturbed by skiers on private land."[12]

Ski warfare, the use of ski-equipped troops in war, is first recorded by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century. The speed and distance that ski troops are able to cover is comparable to that of light cavalry. Swedish writer Olaus Magnus's 1555 A Description of the Northern Peoples describes skiers and their climbing skins in Scricfinnia in what is now Norway.[15] The garrison in Trondheim used skis at least from 1675, and the Danish-Norwegian army included specialized skiing battalions from 1747 – details of military ski exercises from 1767 are retained.[16] Skis were used in military exercises in 1747.[17] In 1799 French traveller Jacques de la Tocnaye visits Norway and writes in his travel diary:[18]

Norwegian immigrants used skis ("Norwegian snowshoes") in the US midwest from around 1836. Norwegian immigrant "Snowshoe Thompson" transported mail by skiing across the Sierra Nevada between California and Nevada from 1856.[12] In 1888 Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his team crossed the Greenland icecap on skis. Norwegian workers on the Buenos Aires - Valparaiso railway line introduced skiing in South America around 1890.[12] In 1910 Roald Amundsen used skis on his South Pole Expedition. In 1902 the Norwegian consul in Kobe imported ski equipment and introduced skiing to the Japanese, motivated by the death of Japanese soldiers during snow storm.[12]

Skiing as sport[edit]

The first recorded organized skiing exercises and races are from military uses of skis in Norwegian and Swedish infantries. For instance details of military ski exercises in the Danish-Norwegian army from 1767 are retained: Military races and exercises included downhill in rough terrain, target practice while skiing downhill, and 3 km cross-country skiing with full military backpack.[16]

  • 1809: Olaf Rye: first known ski jumper.
  • 1843: First public skiing competition ("betting race") held in Tromsø, Norway on March 19, 1843. Also the first skiing competition reported in a newspaper.[12]
  • 1861: First cross-country skiing club "Inderøens Skiløberforening" founded, Trøndelag region, Norway.[12]
  • 1861: The world's first alpine ski club was formed in Kiandra, Australia.[19] Alpine ski racing as an organised sport commences in America[20] and Norway.[21]
  • 1862: First public ski jumping competition held at Trysil, Norway, January 22, 1862. Judges awarded points for style ("elegance and smoothness").[12]
  • 1863: First recorded female ski jumper at Trysil competition.[12]
  • 1864: From January 1864 "Trondheim Weapons Training Club" organizes regular training and competition races (cross-country and jumping), in Trondheim, Norway.[12]
  • 1872: The oldest ski club in North America still existing is the Nansen Ski Club,[22] which was founded in 1872 by Norwegian immigrants of Berlin, New Hampshire under a different name.[23]
  • 1878: On the occasion of the Exposition Universelle in Paris, the Norwegian pavilion presents a display of skis. This ancestral means of locomotion draws the attention of visitors who buy many of them. Henry Duhamel experiments with a pair at Chamrousse in the Alps.[24][25][26]
  • 1879: first recorded use of the word slalom.[27]
  • 1884: First pure cross-country competition held in Trondheim when ski jumping was dropped from the annual competition.[28]
  • 1893: Henrik Angell introduces skiing in Montenegro.
  • November 1895: creation of the Ski Club des Alpes in Grenoble by the friends of Henry Duhamel to whom he had distributed fourteen pairs of skis acquired during his trip to Finland
  • 1904: First ski race in Italy, at Bardonecchia.[16]
  • 1905: foundation of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.[29]
  • 1905/1906: The notion of "slalom" ("slalåm") used for the first time at a race in Sonnenberg. Skiing between poles with flags called "Wertungsfahren" at Münchenkuggel.[16]
  • 1922: start of the Vasaloppet.
  • 1924: formation of the International Ski Federation, also the first Winter Olympics.
  • 1929: Norwegian instructors arrive in Sapporo and train Japanese in ski jumping.[12]
  • 1932: start of the Birkebeinerrennet
  • 1992: Mogul skiing and Freestyle skiing added to the 1992 Winter Olympics.
  • 2009: campaign for the inclusion of women's ski jumping leads to its inclusion in the 2014 Winter Olympics.[30]

Skiing as recreation[edit]

  • 1849: First public "ski tour" organized in Trondheim, Norway.[12]
  • 1868: Mountain resorts became commercially viable when city-dwellers could reach them in winter by train.[31]
  • 1910: first rope tow.[32]
  • 1914 howelsen hill opened for recreational skiing and is the oldest ski resort in the US in continuous use, Steamboat, Colorado
  • 1936: The first chair lift is introduced at Sun Valley, Idaho
  • 1939: the Sno-Surf is patented in the USA. Made of solid white oak, it had an adjustable strap for the left foot, a rubber mat to hold the right foot, a rope with loop used to control speed and steer, and a guide stick used to steer. The first commercially successful, precursor to the snowboard, the snurfer was introduced in 1965.[33]
  • 1952: The first major commercial snow-making machinery installed at Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel in New York state, USA.[34]
  • 1970s: Telemark skiing undergoes a revival possibly inspired by Stein Eriksen and his book Come Ski With Me.[35]

Evolution of equipment[edit]

Asymmetrical Skis[edit]

This type of skis has been used at least in northern Finland and Sweden up until late 19-hundreds. On one leg the skier wore a long straight non-arching ski for sliding, and on the other a shorter ski for kicking. The bottom of the short ski was either plain or covered with animal skin to aid this use, while the long ski supporting the weight of the skier was treated with animal fat in similar manner to modern ski waxing. Early record of this type of skis survives in works of Olaus Magnus.[36] He associates them to Sami people and gives Sami names of savek and golos for the plain and skinned short ski. Finnish names for these are lyly and kalhu for long and short ski.

Single Long Ski[edit]

The seal hunters at the Gulf of Bothnia had developed a special long ski to sneak into shooting distance to the seals' breathing holes, though the ski was useful in moving in the packed ice in general and was made specially long, 3–4 meters, to protect against cracks in the ice. This is called skredstång in Swedish.[37]

Modern Skis[edit]

Around 1850 artisans in Telemark, Norway invent the cambered ski. This ski arches up in the middle, under the binding, which distributes the skier's weight more evenly across the length of the ski. Earlier plank-style skis had to be thick enough not to bow downward and sink in the snow under the skier’s weight. This new design made it possible to build a thinner, lighter ski, that flexed more easily to absorb the shock of bumps, and that maneuvered and ran faster and more easily.[38] Norheim's ski was also the first with a sidecut that narrowed the ski underfoot while the tip and tail remained wider. This enabled the ski to flex and turn more easily.[38]

Beginning in 1891, skimakers in Norway began laminating two or more layers of wood together to make lighter cross country running skis. These evolved into the multi-laminated high-performance skis of the mid-1930s.[39]

In 1950 Howard Head introduced the Head Standard, constructed by sandwiching aluminum alloy around a plywood core. The design included steel edges (invented in 1928 in Austria,[38]) and the exterior surfaces were made of phenol formaldehyde resin which could hold wax. This hugely successful ski was unique at the time in having been designed for the recreational market, rather than for racing.[40] 1962: a fibreglass ski, Kneissl's White Star, was used by Karl Schranz to win two gold medals at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.[40] By the late '60s fibreglass had mostly replaced aluminum.

In 1974 Magne Myrmo becomes the last world champion (Falun, 15 km cross country) using wooden skis.[12]

In 1975 the torsion box ski construction design is patented.[41] The patent is referenced by Kästle, Salomon, Rottefella, and Madshus. In 1993 Elan introduced the Elan SCX. Skis with a much wider tip and tail than waist. When tipped onto their edges, they bend into a curved shape and carve a turn. Cross-country techniques use different styles of turns; edging is not as important, and skis have little sidecut. For many years, alpine skis were shaped similarly to cross-country, simply shorter and wider, but the Elan SCX introduced a radical sidecut design that dramatically improved performance. Other companies quickly followed suit, and it was realized in retrospect that "It turns out that everything we thought we knew for forty years was wrong."[38] The Twin-tip ski was introduced by Line in 1995.[42]

Bindings and boots[edit]

Sondre Norheim demonstrated Telemark skiing before 1866, and the Open Christiania in 1868, both made possible with a binding design (which dated back to the late 1840s). This binding innovation, also credited to Sondre, added a loop of twisted birch roots that ran from the existing birch root toe loops around the boot heels and back. This stiff heel loop allowed the heel to lift as before, for walking and gliding, but better held the boots to, and aligned with, the skis allowing greater torque to pivot the skis in a new direction than when the boot could easily pivot sideways in the toe loop. This enabled Sondre to control the skis with his feet and legs, replacing the former technique of dragging a large pole in the snow on one side or the other to drag the skier in that direction.[43] These new techniques spread throughout Telemark and would later be named for the region.[44] In 1894: Fritz Huitfeldt invented a binding with a secure toe iron which allowed the heel to move freely. This became the standard industry binding through the 1930s.

The release binding, the Saf-Ski, was invented by Hjalmar Hvam in 1939.

In 1955 the then world's leading ski boot company, Henke, introduced boots with buckles. It was not widely-adopted until the early 1960s, when Lange used them on their new plastic ski boots.[45] Salomon introduced the rear-entry boot in 1984.

In the earlier days of skiing, the skis were in a design somewhat similar to snowshoes, roughly a walking motion, although they were slid over the snow instead of lifted with each stride. During this era, the binding was also similar to those of a contemporary snowshoe, generally consisting of a leather strap fastened over the toe of the boot.

During the 1800s, skiing evolved into a sport and great advances in technique and equipment design followed. Generally the skiing motion was much closer to skating, using long gliding strides. This technique required bindings that followed the skier's foot through a wider range of motion, but loosening the toe strap simply made it fall off. To address this, a second strap was added that looped from the toe around the heel of the boot, pulling it forward into the toe strap.

Over time, both portions of the binding evolved. Early on, the toe strap was replaced by a metal clip under the toe that folded up on the sides to cup the toe of the boot. This provided much greater grip on the boot, allowing the ski to be pushed sideways. The heel strap also changed over time; in order to allow a greater range of motion, a spring was added to allow the strap to lengthen when the boot was rotated up off the ski. This buckled strap was later replaced by a metal cable, or in some cases a single large metal spring. By this point the bindings were generally known as cable bindings.

The introduction of the cable binding allowed the Christie turn to become a standard on downhill runs, and to further support this style of skiing the Swiss racer Guido Reuge in 1929 invented a cable binding with steel clips below the boot heel to enable clamping the heel down for downhill portions. He named the product "Kandahar" for the international Kandahar Cup ski races.[46] In use in alpine races, the Kandahar binding led to serious leg injuries, and by 1939 experimentation began in earnest on bindings that would release the boot in a fall.[47]

The evolution of bindings for alpine skiing wasn't complete until the introduction of plastic ski boots (beginning in 1966) permitted the development of industrial standards for binding function. Injury rates began to fall with the gradual introduction of the Teflon anti-friction pad around 1972.

Cable bindings remained in use for some time for cross-country, and are today popular for telemark skiing. However, the Rottafella design from the 1930s became more popular for cross country skiing through the 1950s and into the 1970s, and the Salomon Nordic System (SNS) binding re-invented this field entirely. Today cross-country binding systems have become as customized as their downhill counterparts of the 1960s.

Modern ski bindings are based on the Fennoscandian model of the 19th century. The bindings of Telemark ski and cross-country skis were developed from the Ugro-Lapp type.

Norheim's binding[edit]

One of the first recorded advances in binding design was made by Sondre Norheim, the "father" of modern skiing. His binding included a leather toe strap that was fastened tightly with a buckle, and a heel strap of small birch roots twisted into a rope. The heel strap started at the toe, looped around the heel, and forward again to the toe. The heel strap pulled the boot forward into the toe strap, so the ski would not fall off when pressure was released on the toe. The strap had to be flexible and elastic in order to allow it to keep tension on the heel as the skier strode forward and the heel lifted from the ski.[48]

First introduced in 1850, Norheim's binding allowed a much longer striding motion that greatly increased cross-country speeds, and this quickly became widespread. It also allowed the ski to be directed by twisting the foot, transmitting the torsion to the ski through the toe strap. Techniques based on this ability were developed over the next few years, replacing the former technique of dragging a large pole in the snow on one side or the other to drag the skier in that direction. These new techniques spread throughout Telemark and would later be named for the region.[49] Norheim made a splash when he introduced this publicly at an 1868 ski jump meet, where the contestants were required to ski up the hill, down the hill to the top of the jump, and then jump, with their style being marked on all phases. Norheim's smooth linked turns stunned the crowds, and he won the competition.

Huitfeldt's advances[edit]

A late model Huitfeldt-style binding. The toe clip runs through the core of the ski to bend up on either side. This model uses a metal heel strap with a lever buckle instead of an all-leather design.

Fritz R. Huitfeldt drove the evolution of the ski binding over the next 20 years. In 1894 he introduced the use of semi-circular metal hooks at the toe to attach the straps. The hooks were positioned to tightly fit to the sides of the boot, keeping the ski centred and eliminating any "flop" that the formerly loose straps allowed. The heel strap was also attached to the same hooks, but because of their rounded shape, the required range of motion was provided by the straps sliding up and down on the hooks. This allowed the heel strap to be replaced by a less flexible leather strap. Together, these changes dramatically tightened the binding, greatly increasing control.[48]

In 1897, Huitfeldt further improved the design by changing the toe piece. Instead of hooks, he drilled a rectangular hole through the ski from side to side, and passed an iron bar through it. The bar was then bent up on either side, locking it in place, and then formed to fit the toe of the boot. This improvement once again dramatically improved the firmness of the fit. Finally, in 1904 he adopted the Hoyer-Ellefsen toggle, a lever that replaced the buckles.[50] This not only greatly improved mechanical advantage, further improving the strength of the binding, but also made the system much easier to put on and remove. Better yet, the geometry of the attachment points meant the heel strap was mechanically attached below that of the toe strap, which provided a constant "diagonal downpull" that naturally returned the heel to the ski.

Huitfeldt style bindings were by far the most popular system for decades, with the only major change being Marius Eriksen's 1920 introduction of pre-formed plates that were screwed on top of the ski.[50] Other binding systems did exist, in particular a class of bindings originally introduced by Mathias Zdarsky that replaced the heel strap with a long metal plate under the sole of the boot, hinged at the front to allow the heel to rise. The heel was held to the plate by a short strap attaching at the back.[51] These gave even better control than the Huitfeldt design, but so firmly attached the leg that injury was a real problem.

Cable bindings[edit]

A typical late-model cable binding. The boot is inserted into the metal plate, and held down by a leather strap (missing). The cable is then lifted over the heel of the boot, and pulled forward by the lever at the top of the image. The spring keeps constant tension as the boot moves up and down through the striding motion.
Main article: Cable binding

The final major improvement to the Huitfeldt "free heel" designs was the replacement of the heel strap with a metal cable and springs. Invented in 1929 by the Swiss ski racer Guido Reuge, patented by him and marketed in 1932, the spring-loaded cable binding was named for the Lord Roberts of Kandahar Cup ski races.[52] Kandahar-style cable bindings would be almost universal into the early 1960s.[50]

The Kandahar design offered two advantages over the earlier designs. The use of a spring to provide tension allowed fine control over the mechanics, and a smooth action that did not suddenly increase tension at the end of the stroke. It also allowed the skier to adjust the tension by moving the spring or turning a control knob, allowing for different conditions and skiing style and stride. More important was the addition of two small hooks on either side of the ski near the heel. When skiing downhill, the skier could clip the cable under the hooks, locking down the heel and providing much greater control. Now the ski could be turned by rotating the leg, forcing the ski to stem. When it was time to climb back up the hill, the cable was unhooked and returned to being a normal cross-country binding.[50]

The introduction of dedicated ski lifts in 1908 led to an evolution of skiing as a sport. In the past, skiers would have to ski or walk up the hills they intended to ski down. With the lift, the skiers could leave their skis on, and would be skiing downhill all the time. The need to unclip the heel for cross-country use was eliminated, at least at resorts with lifts. As lifts became more common, especially with the introduction of the chairlift in 1936, the ski world split into cross-country and downhill, a split that remains to this day.

For pure downhill skiing, the Kandahar was a problem. In particular, the metal toe clip so tightly clamped the front of the boot that even small sideways motions of the tip of the ski could twist the lower leg, and spiral fractures of the calf were common. The death grip led to the nickname "bear trap bindings", and it was estimated that 1% of skiers suffered an injury on any given day.[53]

During the 1930s it was discovered that an improvement could be made by removing the toe strap from a typical Kandahar binding. Instead, the metal cup was bent inward to slightly wrap over the top of the boot, or at least the top of the sole. Although the resulting clip was much less solid than the strap, in the case of a forward fall the boot would rotate up and out of the cup, releasing the leg. Although this was an improvement, it was a small one.

Safety bindings[edit]

In 1937 Hjalmar Hvam broke his leg skiing, and while recuperating from surgery, invented the Saf-Ski toe binding. This was a metal clip with a pyramidal top that fit into a slot cut into the sole of the ski boot. When the boot was rotated forward, the slot on the toe eventually rose above the metal pyramid, allowing the toe to release from the ski. The system was considered with suspicion by professional skiers, especially when Olaf Rodegaard released during a race. However, Rodegaard credits the release with saving him from a broken leg.[54] In the post-war era, Hvam sold several thousand pairs of Saf-Ski's, in an era when downhill skiing was in its infancy. Hvam continued to sell the Saf-Ski into the 1960s, but in 1966 his insurance rates increased so dramatically that he was forced from the market.[55]

A dramatic advance was introduced as the Look Nevada in 1950. The Nevada held the toe centred over the ski using two metal fingers shaped into an upside-down V. The fingers were pivoted to allow motion to the sides, and centred with a spring. During a fall, sideways torsion could overcome the force of the spring and allow the boot to release directly to the side. This design was quickly copied by other vendors, notably Marker, and had the first real impact on the dominance of the classic fixed-toe bindings. By the late 1950s, there were about 35 different release toe bindings on the US market,[56] most of which used a normal Kandahar-style heel cable.

The first modern heel-and-toe binding was the Cubco binding, first introduced in 1950 but not popular until about 1960. A heel-release binding faced the problem that there was no obvious place to attach to on the heel, so the Cubco solved this by screwing small metal clips into the sole of the boot. This also eliminated the changes in performance as the sole of the boot wore down, or the geometry of the sole changed as the boot wore into the skiers foot.[56] Marker introduced the Rotomat, which gripped onto the sole where it extended past the heel, and Look quickly followed suit with their Grand Prix design. By the mid-1960s, release bindings that worked on both the heel and the toe were common, and by the late 1960s the cable binding had disappeared from downhill.

Salomon 347 bindings, typical of a 1980s beginner design. This binding features a Nevada-style pivoting toe, a step-in-step-out heel, and an integrated ski brake. Designs have changed little since this era.

One problem with 1960s release bindings was that the boots were not standardized, and a binding that worked well on one boot might be dangerous on another, or might become dangerous over time as the boot shifted about. This led to the introduction of plate bindings, which used a metal plate firmly clipped to the sole of the boot, and bindings that clamped onto the plate. The plate could be easily removed for walking about. Plate bindings were popular in the US in the 1970s, notably the BURT Retractable Bindings and Spademan binding, but never caught on in any major way in Europe. As more and more of the downhill ski market came under control of European companies, the plate bindings disappeared, in spite of their excellent safety records.[57]

The disappearance of the plate and alternate systems was due to a combination of factors, notably the introduction of standardized hard plastic boots. Plastic was first introduced by Lange as a way of improving existing leather designs. As the new material spread through the industry, the sole piece was standardized to allow toe-and-heel bindings to clip on. Plastic had the advantages of being much firmer than leather, not changing shape over time, and having predictable friction characteristics wet or dry. Although plate bindings of the era had much better safety records, notably the Spademan design, the new boots and bindings could be easily adapted to any ski for any skier.


The cable binding remained in use, and even increased in popularity, throughout this period as cross-country skiing developed into a major sport of its own. In this field the speeds were generally not high enough that the release was a serious concern, and the freedom of the free-heel design was perfect for the sport.

A typical Rottefella cross-country binding. The ski boot has small holes that fit over the pins seen on the bottom of the plate, keeping the boot from sliding rearward. The metal bar clamps the toe down onto the pins, and can be released by pressing down on the plastic clip with a ski pole.

Change eventually came though the evolution of the Rottefella binding, first introduced in 1927. The original Rottefella eliminated the heel strap, which held the boot forward in the binding, by drilling small holes in the sole of the boot which fit into pins in the toe piece. This would only work if the sole was held very firmly down on the pins, so the binding also introduced a metal clip that was forced down onto the top of the sole of the boot, forcing it onto the pins. When the inventor, Bror With, won a race on the new design, Norwegian Crown Prince Olav ask him what they were, and he responded "Oh, they're just a couple of rat traps I picked up at the hardware store".[58] "Rottefella" is Norwegian for "rat trap".

Problems with the geometry of the boot sole, which meant only certain boots would work, meant the Rottafella was not widely used. This problem was eventually solved through the same evolution of plastic components that changed the downhill market. In this case the use of highly flexible plastics allowed for a sole that was very strong torsionally and side-to-side, but still had excellent flexibility lengthwise, allowing the heel to rise as with a cable binding. This was standardized as the 3-pin system, which was widespread by the 1970s.[58]

Glide and grip[edit]

Johannes Scheffer in Argentoratensis Lapponiæ (History of Lapland) in 1673 probably gave the first recorded instruction for ski wax application[59] He advised skiers to use pine tar pitch and rosin. Ski waxing was also documented in 1761.[60]

1934 saw limited production of solid aluminum skis in France. Wax does not stick to aluminum, so the base under the foot included grips to prevent backsliding, a precursor of modern fish scale waxless skis.[61] In 1970 waxless Nordic skis were made with fishscale bases.[40] Klister, which helps get a grip in warm snow, was invented and patented in 1913 by Peter Østbye. Recent advancements in wax have been the use of surfactants, introduced in 1974 by Hertel Wax, and fluorocarbons, introduced in 1986, to increase water and dirt repellency and increase glide. Many companies, including Swix, Toyo, Holmenkol, Briko, and Maplus are dedicated to ski wax production and have developed a range of products to cover various conditions.


Early skiers used one long pole or spear. The first depiction of a skier with two ski poles dates to 1741.[62] In 1959 Ed Scott introduced the large-diameter, tapered shaft, lightweight aluminum ski pole.[40]


See also[edit]


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  19. ^ E. John B. Allen (2011). Historical Dictionary of Skiing. Scarecrow Press. p. 35. 
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  31. ^ Masia, Seth. "Skis, Trains and Mountains". Skiing Heritage. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  32. ^ "The Progression of an Obsession: Ski History 4,000 B.C. - 1930". 
  33. ^ "The Beginnings of Snowboarding". Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  34. ^ Leich, Jeff. "Chronology of Snowmaking". New England Ski Museum. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  35. ^ "Halvor Kleppen – Telemark Skiing, Norway's Gift to the World", Alpenglow Ski History
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  37. ^ "Västerbotten 1971 nr. 2" magazine in Swedish, includes copious pictures of the ski and the associated equipment. [1]
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  39. ^ Masia, Seth. The Splitkein Patent. 
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  41. ^ Bjertaes, Gunnar. "Patent number: 4005875 Ski construction of the torsion box type". US Patent Office. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  42. ^ Skiing the wrong way since '95
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  45. ^ Fry, John. "When you could be racing while others were lacing". skiinghistory.org. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  46. ^ Huntsford, Roland. Two Planks and a Passion. 
  47. ^ Masia, Seth. "Release! History of Safety Bindings". Skiing History magazine. 
  48. ^ a b Lert, pg. 25
  49. ^ Morton Lund, "Norway: How It All Started", Ski Heritage, September 2007, pg. 9
  50. ^ a b c d Lert, pg. 26
  51. ^ John Allen, "Mathias Zdarsky: The Father of Alpine Skiing", Ski Heritage, March 2008, pg. 12
  52. ^ Luzi Hitz, History of Swiss Ski Technology, http://skiinghistory.org/history/history-swiss-ski-technology-and-instruction/
  53. ^ Masia, pg. 26
  54. ^ Masia, pg. 27
  55. ^ Masia, pg. 30
  56. ^ a b Masia, pg. 29
  57. ^ Seth Masia, "The Better Mousetrap", Ski Heritage, March 2003, pg 39-41
  58. ^ a b "About Us", Rottefella
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  60. ^ Oberleutnant Hals. Om Skismøring. Vaage: Skienes Verden. p. 254. 
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  62. ^ Hergstrom, P (1748). Beschreibung von dem unter schwedischer Krone gehörigen Lappland. Leipzig: von Rother. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Achard, Michel (2011) La Connaissance du Ski en France Avant 1890: approche bibliographique, 16e-19e siècle Le Bassat: Achard ISBN 9782950411242 [in French]
  • Allen, E. John B. (2011). Historical Dictionary of Skiing. Scarecrow Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-8108-6802-1. 
  • Dresbeck, LeRoy J. (October 1967). "The ski: its history and historiography". Technology and Culture 8 (4): 467–79 + fig. 1–3. doi:10.2307/3102114. ISSN 0040-165X. 
  • Huntford, Roland (2008) Two Planks and a Passion: The Dramatic History of Skiing ISBN 978-1441134011
  • Allen, E. John B. (2007) The Culture and Sport of Skiing: From Antiquity to World War II Amherst, MA, USA: University of Massachusetts Press, ISBN 9781558496002
  • Weinstock, John M. (2003) Skis and Skiing from the Stone Age to the birth of the sport Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen ISBN 9780773467873
  • Engen, Alan (1998) For the Love of Skiing: A Visual History ISBN 0879058676
  • Lund, Morten (1996) "A Short History of Alpine Skiing" International Skiing History Association
  • Lund, Allen, Fry, Masia et al. (1993-present). Skiing History Magazine. International Skiing History Association. ISSN 1082-2895.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Flower, Raymond (1976) The history of skiing and other winter sports Toronto; New York: Methuen Inc. ISBN 0-458-92780-5
  • Dudley, Charles M. (1935) 60 Centuries of Skiing Brattleboro, VT, USA: Stephen Daye Press
  • Lunn, Arnold (1927) A History of Skiing London: Oxford University Press