As the leaves begin to change and winter draws nearer I asked myself, who was the first person to slap on a pair of skis and take them down the slopes? From hunting aides to recreational fun, the evolution process to the modern day ski is fascinating. Courtesy of National Geographic here are some interesting points on the origins of skiing:
‘After the last ice age, Stone Age hunters began strapping long pieces of wood to their feet to travel farther and faster over snow in pursuit of the game that flourished across Europe and Asia. Adaptations for terrain and snow conditions influenced the design of the skis in different regions.
8000 B.C., Altay, China – Altay skis are long by modern standards. Skiers use a single pole to aid balance. Some Chinese academics say the earliest Altay skis date back to 8000 B.C., but other scholars say skiing came to the region much later. The bottoms are covered with horsehide. In the past the hide was laced on; now it is tacked in place. The grain of the horsehair is aligned so it digs into the snow as the skier climbs but glides on descents.
6000 B.C., Vis, Russia – The oldest ski found to date has an elk head carved on one end that may have functioned as a brake.
3200 B.C., Kalvtrask, Sweden – A long pole with a scoop carved into one end likely served several purposes: steering downhill, shoveling, and as a club for hunting.
ca A.D. 750, Kinnula, Finland – Shorter and wider, this intricately carved ski worked well on soft snow in forest terrain.
ca 1600, Norway – Skiers glided on one long smooth board coated with tar and pushed forward on a shorter, fur-bottomed one.
ca 1800, Telemark, Norway – Foreshadowing modern designs, the shape of these skis, wider at the ends and narrow in the middle, improved control and turning.
ca 1860s, Sierra Nevada, United States – Initially American miners used 10-foot skis to travel in the mountains, and over rime they began using longer skies to race each other.
ca 1890s, Europe & U.S. – Skiing evolves as a leisure activity and sport. Hickory and ash skies are the primary equipment.
Today, Worldwide – Skis continue to evolve, with lighter and stronger materials that increase speed and control.’
Visit http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/12/first-skiers/ski-history-interactive to view the skiing timeline. The modern day ski has come a long way since its ancestors, it makes you wonder what new ski inventions will come to pass.