History


Skiing was not a vacation recreation but a means of transportation in winter in Northern Europe and Asia thousands of years ago. Early skis were made from the bones of large animals strapped to the toe of the boot with leather strips. In Scandinavia wooden skis were believed to be used even five thousand years ago.

Modern skiing, which was to later grow into a vacation sport, developed in the1850s with Sondre Nordheim, a Norwegian, using entwined shoots of the birch tree root to make the first binding which provided sufficient control of the ski to steer it and enough elasticity to stay snugly around the heel. He later introduced the first modern side cut ski. Over the next few years, new techniques of skiing developed, mostly in Europe and soon ski manufacturing became an industry.

In the early 1900s skiing grew into a popular competitive sport in Europe with the first run of the world’s first downhill classic in1911 and the first Slalom race in 1921 both in Switzerland. The first Olympic Winter Games held was at Chamonix, France in1924 with only Nordic ski events. Alpine events were included in the Olympic Games in 1936. In 1931 the first FIS World Alpine Championships were held at Murren, Switzerland.

Skiing was slowly gaining popularity in America as a vacation recreation particularly in areas where there were Scandinavian immigrants. After the World War it grew in stature with hundreds of ski resorts built in the United States in the 1960s. A ski factory, the Northland Ski Company dominated the market with its hickory skis for decades. The first U.S. FIS World Championships were held in 1950 at Aspen for alpine, Lake Placid, New York for jumping and Rumford, Maine for cross-country.

The vacation resorts modernized over the years and progressively added conveniences like the rope tow, overhead cable lift, a J-bar, chair lift and gondola lift. Extensive television coverage of skiing competitions increased the popularity of recreational skiing. Resorts became tourist attractions and snowmaking machines were introduced to ensure that the vacation period had plenty of snow for revelers. Today skiing is one of the most popular winter vacation sports every where.