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History of Skiing: Important Dates

A timeline of the history of skiing

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History of Skiing: Important Dates

A woodcut design of a Lappish skier from Great Britain, circa 1650.

Copyright Getty Images / Hulton Archives
The history of skiing traces all the way back to ancient times, with the oldest set of skis dating back to as early as 6000 B.C. Skiing has come along way since then, with its origins in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria, the United States, and even America. Here's a look at some of the most important dates in the history of skiing.

  • The first community believed to have skied were the ancestors of the Sami, an Arctic indigenous people
  • 6300 BC: The oldest set of skis made of hardwood were found near Lake Sindor in Russia (1200km NW of Moskow).
  • 3000 BC: Rock paintings in Russia and Scandinavia confirm a history of skiing by the people of that time.
  • 2500 BC: A rock carving of a skier was found through carbon dating to be made in Rødøy, a Norwegian island north of the Arctic Circle.
  • 1300 BC: Norse legend/writings include Ullr (or Ull, Ollerus) and Skade (or Skada, Skadi), the god and goddess of skiing.
  • 200 BC: In China, the first known documentary reference to skiing from the West Han period was written. 

  • 1206: The Birkebeiners, Thorstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka rescued the 2-year-old Prince Hakon Hakonson, heir to the Norwegian throne, skiing over the Dovre mountains from Lillehammer to Osterdalen. Since 1932, the Birkebeiner race is continued along the same route from Rena to Lillehammer.
  • 1206: Norwegian military skiers carry the King’s heir Haakon Haakonson to safety over mountains during a Civil War, thus creating one of the most famous legends in backcountry skiing history.
  • 1689: Austrian Valasavor publishes Die Ehre des Herzogtumes Krain. He writes of skiers near the Adriatic using short skis to turn on steep slopes. It is one of the first accounts that discuss downhill skiing specifically.
  • 1716: Great Northern War between the Russians, Swedish and Norwegians was fought primarily on skis.
  • Early 1800's: Norwegians begin skiing the Alps for recreation instead of militarism. This set the foundation for modern Nordic ski racing, and the origin of narrow skis, designed for lightweight gliding on packed racing trails
  • 1841: First documented use of recreational skis in USA, in Beloit, Wisconsin
  • 1861: Alpine ski racing as an organized sport begins in America and Norway.
  • 1861: The world's first alpine ski club was formed in Kiandra, Australia.
  • 1866: Central Ski Association designed a competition in Christiania, Norway. Sondre Norheim and his Telemarking team demonstrate what is now referred to as a “telemark turn” and a “Christianna skidded stop turn.”
  • 1868: The first national skiing competition in Norway, held in the capital Christiania (now Oslo) and won by Sondre Norheim.
  • 1905: The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, the governing body of Olympic snowsports, is founded.
  • 1911: The Roberts of Kandahar Cup was the first downhill ski race, staged in Switzerland. This race continues today in the World Cup known as “The Kandahar.”
  • 1924: The formation of the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS); The first Olympic Winter Games were held at Chamonix, France, with only Nordic ski events.
  • 1927: The first U.S. downhill race was on Mt. Moosilauke, NH, by the Dartmouth Outing Club.
  • 1931: First FIS World Alpine Championships at Mürren, Switzerland; British racer Esme Mackinnon won both women’s downhill and slalom
  • 1950: First U.S. FIS World Championships in Aspen, Colorado and Lake Placid, New York
  • 1952: First artificially made snow created at Grossinger’s resort in New York; two years later, it became the first ski area to make snow regularly
  • 1962: Chuck Ferries was the first American to win a European classic gate race, the Hahnenkamm Slalom.
  • 1967: The first World Cup Competitions created by U.S. Ski Team Coach Bob Beattie, French Ski Team Coach Honore Bonnet and French journalist Serge Lang.
  • 1992: Mogul Skiing and Freestyle Skiing were added as events of the 1992 Winter Olympics.
  • 2009: The campaign for the inclusion of women's ski jumping leads to its inclusion in the 2014 Winter Olympics

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