Skiing is a recreational activity and competitive winter sport in which the participant uses skis to glide on snow. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Asymmetrical skis were used at least in northern Finland and Sweden up until the late 1800s. 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.
Until the mid-1800s skiing was primarily used for transport, and since then has become a recreation and sport. Military ski races were held in Norway during the 18th century, and ski warfare was studied in the late 18th century. As equipment evolved and ski lifts were developed skiing evolved into two main genres in the 1930s, Alpine and Nordic.
Types of skiing
Nordic uses free-heel bindings that attach at the toes of the skier's boots but not at the heels. Nordic skiing does not require lifts and equipment can be used to reach the backcountry.
Also called downhill skiing, alpine skiing typically takes place on a piste at a ski resort. It is characterized by fixed-heel bindings that attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier's boot. Because it is difficult to walk in alpine equipment, ski lifts including chairlifts bring skiiers up the slope. Backcountry skiing can be accessed by helicopter or snowcat. Facilities at resorts can include night skiing, après-ski, and glade skiing under the supervision of the ski patrol and the ski school. Alpine skiing branched off from the older Nordic skiing around the 1920s, when the advent of ski lifts meant that it was not necessary to walk any longer. Alpine equipment specialized to where it can only be used with the help of lifts.
Telemark skiing is a ski turning technique and FIS-sanctioned discipline. It is named after the Telemark region of Norway. Using equipment similar to nordic skiing, the ski bindings having the ski boot attached only at the toe.
The following disciplines are sanctioned by the FIS. Many have their own world cups and are in the winter olympics.
- Cross-country: The sport encompasses a variety of formats for cross-country skiing races over courses of varying lengths. Such races occur over homologated, groomed courses designed to support classic (in-track) and free-style events, where the skiers may employ skate skiing. It also encompasses cross-country ski marathon events, sanctioned by the Worldloppet Ski Federation, and cross-country ski orienteering events, sanctioned by the International Orienteering Federation, and biathlon a combination of cross-country and shooting.
- Ski jumping: contested at the olympics, the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup, the summer FIS Grand Prix Ski Jumping, and the FIS Ski-Flying World Championships
- Nordic combined: contested at the olympics and at the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, it is a combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping.
- Alpine skiing discliplines include combined, downhill, slalom, giant slalom, Super-G, and Para-alpine.
- Freestyle skiing: includes mogul skiing, aerials, ski cross, half-pipe, and slopestyle.
- Snowboard competition includes slopestyle, cross, half-pipe, alpine, parallel slalom, and parallel giant slalom.
Equipment used in skiing includes:
- skis, which may have skins or wax applied for traction. Variations on skis include:
- Boots and bindings
- helmets and ski suits
Skiing without snow
- The cradle of skiing (Norway – the official site in the United States)
- Skiing and the Creation of a Norwegian Identity (Norway – the official site in the United States)
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