Skiing is among the most well-known winter sports or recreation for many people worldwide. It involves moving through a snowy slope using a pair of skis and long and flat runners strapped to someone’s shoes.
A lot of people have been skiing for winter competitions. Competitive skiing consists of several events such as Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, and freestyle. Skiing is an incredible sport because it is also fun and thrilling aside from being a unique sport.
However, there is more to skiing than just riding down the snowy slopes. There are many fun facts about skiing that one should know. One of these is that the invention of this activity was already more than 8,000 years ago. This implies that ancient people needed skiing for their survival before it became a recreational activity or a winter sport.
In different countries, especially in Europe and North America, children are taught to ski even at a very young age. As soon as these kids start toddling around, their parents take the opportunity to teach them this wonderful and fun sport. Indeed, skiing is an activity for all ages.
There are several fun facts about skiing that you might want to know. Some of these are: Who is the fastest skier in the world? What is the fastest speed ever traveled by a skier? Where did skiing originate? And many more!
Read on as you’ll find a lot of interesting facts about skiing that will amaze you and make you look forward to trying this amazing winter sport.
The origin of the word “ski”
The word “ski” came from the word “skio” of the Old Norse, also called Old Nordic, a North Germanic dialect. The word “skio” means a split piece of wood.
Skiing can be traced back to 5,000 BCE
Like what was said earlier, skiing has been around for thousands of years now. It existed during the Neolithic period, and there’s evidence that could support this claim. Scientists have found a pair of skis in Northern Russia that could be dated back to the Neolithic period.
Another documented evidence that proves that skiing existed even long before is the primitive carvings located in the region of Norway and Sweden. According to experts, the carvings can be dated back to 5,000 BCE.
Before being a winter sport and activity, skiing was once a mode of transportation for the nomadic people during the neolithic period. Ancient people used skis to travel across the extensive ice sheets of the arctic to look for food and shelter. Even before, Neolithic people needed skiing for survival.
In the mid-18th century, skiing started to become a recreational activity and winter sport. And it was only until the 19th century that skiing became significantly popular with people around the world.
Experts found the oldest pair of skis in Sweden. It is said to be a ski from 4,500-2,500 BCE.
Skiing was originally limited to men
During its popularity in the 19th century, skiing was only limited to men. It was originally a “men’s sport.” So, instead of skiing, women were encouraged to ice skate during these times.
Skiing is composed of different events
As a competitive sport, you can classify skiing into different events, mainly Alpine, Nordic, and Freestyle. There are some differences between the three ski events. For alpine skiing, skiers use fixed-heel ski bindings. On the other hand, for the Nordic skiing event, skiers do not ski with a fixed heel. Lastly, freestyle skiing is a competition involving jumps and performance-based skiing routines.
Harrison Schmitt, a crew member of Apollo 17, NASA’s last mission of the Apollo Program, said that learning skiing is essential, especially when you are an astronaut heading to the moon. He said that knowing the techniques used for skiing can be helpful when walking on the moon. He also pictured people traveling through space for a lunar skiing holiday.
Handmade skis in China
A Mongol or Kazakh tribe from China’s Altai Mountains located in the Xinjiang province still produces handmade skis. They gather spruce trees and split them by hand to make their skis. After that, they wrap around dried horses’ skin unto the spruce trees, and then they’re ready to go.
Popularity of skiing
You can say that skiing is indeed popular because over 80 countries worldwide have ski areas. Aside from that, there are approximately 350 million people worldwide visiting ski resorts and ski areas yearly.
Speed skiing is considered to be among the fastest non-motorized sports held on land. In 2016, Ivan Origone, an Italian speed skier, set a world record as the fastest downhill ski, with 158.4 miles per hour or 255 kilometers per hour. This happened in a ski resort in France called Vars Ski Resort.
Ivan Origone is the brother of Simone Origone, who also once held a world record, clocking 156.2 miles per hour. Even though they are brothers, they are also their own great competitors. Both Origone men are ski instructors and alpine guides.
Austria: The home of skiing champions
When discussing competitive alpine skiing, Austria is among the famous countries that house several worldwide skiing champions. Austria’s national skiing team won Olympic medals two times more than any other country. This is also the country with the highest number of world skiing champions.
Aside from skiing champions, Austria is also home to several well-known ski areas globally. Some of these include the Alpine resorts, Kitzbühel and Sölden.
St. Bernard of Montjoux
If you are wondering, yes, skiers also have their own patron saint. St. Bernard of Montjoux is known to be the patron saint of skiers. In 1923, Pope Pius XI proclaimed him a saint.
St. Bernard of Montjoux was known for doing missionary work in the Alps. It is why he became the patron saint and the protector of skiers. Another fact about him is that the St. Bernard dogs, working dogs from the Western Alps, were named after him.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Skiing was introduced to Switzerland because of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sir Doyle once went to Norway for one of his ski trips, and then he took home some skis and brought them back to Switzerland because he thought this country was a perfect site for skiing. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t wrong because after several years, and even until now, many people travel to Switzerland annually to enjoy and ski on its beautiful snowy terrains.