The world’s most popular winter sport, skiing, has come a long way since it was first practiced 1000's of years ago. Ancient tribesmen glided over snow-covered hills on crude wooden planks. Skiing was not a sport then but a means of transportation during the winter months. Ski relics have been discovered in peat bogs throughout Europe and in rock carvings in Norway. Some archeologists believe skiing dates back to around 4000-5000 years ago. Relics found in Northern Europe reveal that skiing existed back then in a very crude form. The skis were no more the pieces of wood with animal fir wrapped around them to provide traction on the snow.
At the very recent stages of development skiing evolved not only for recreation or leisure but more out of necessity; necessity to traverse through miles of snow during the harsh winter months. This made skiing the most viable and convenient form of getting around. Through the years this transportation method has eventually evolved into a popular winter sport enjoyed on all continents.
The pioneering discoveries related to modern skiing were continuously being carried out in northern Europe. These skiers developed new ski styles and techniques which allowed skiing to develop as a recreational and leisure activity. The name Sondre Norheim comes to mind and is so aptly looked upon as the ‘Father of Modern Skiing’. He was a terrific skier himself, demonstrating flawless techniques. He developed the famous Telemark and Christiana ski turns. Sondre along with other skiing pioneers brought skiing into the limelight globally as an adventurous and enjoyable winter activity.
Skiing was introduced to North America by the Canadian Pacific Railway. In an attempt to bring business to the CPR's chain of mountain hotels it brought guides in from Switzerland and Austria to help guide people throughout the mountains surrounding its hotels. The CPR line through the Canadian Rockies had a series of hotels and chalets from Banff through into Rogers Pass. These backcountry retreats catered to a wealthy clientele that wanted to explore the mountains.
Early skis were crude in construction being made of wood derived from the pine or spruce trees of the surrounding forests. Ski poles were also made of wood and were quite fragile. Turning and various other skiing techniques were restricted by this crude gear. This prevented skiers from accessing any terrain that was too challenging. The means to ski that terrain simply were not developed yet.
People started taking up the challenges of skiing in trickier terrain and snow conditions. Skiing competitions and races were held in local areas where people could show off their skiing abilities. This paved the way for skiing to evolve as a sport and leisure activity. Skiing gradually spread across North America and Europe as newer and more advanced equipment was developed. The popularity of skiing as a sport on the world level came in 1924 when skiing was included as a major event in the Winter Olympic Games in France.
Today skiing is the most popular winter sport enjoyed by both young and old. Hi-tech skiing equipment, improved clothing and various related advancements have made this sport all the more fun and appealing. The skis are now made of special materials such as carbon fiber, titanium and steel. These materials are more resistant to the punishing conditions skis are subject to. Skis are also very technical. Depending on the conditions and type of skiing the skis are designed to perform at their best.
The design and construction of skis, bindings, boots and other ski gear has made skiing safer and more fun. They have been designed to make skiing easier and more comfortable for the masses. Ski clothing has also become more advanced with wind-resistant and waterproof materials being used to make them. Anyone can learn to ski with confidence in less than a season.
Throughout the world numerous ski-resorts have developed. These mega resorts offer everything one needs to enjoy a day on the slopes. With on mountain accommodations and amenities people don't ever need to leave the resort while on holidays. The design of these resorts, both on and off the mountain, have made them easy to get around and with all the shopping and dinning needs close to the hotels along with the lifts. Many resorts offer skiing from your door where you can ski from your hotel down to the lifts in the morning and back to your hotel for lunch or at the end of the day.
Ski schools at these resorts are able to take a beginner and have them making basic snowplow turns before lunch. With a few more lessons almost anyone can get the skills and confidence to put them on the path to becoming a strong skier. They are highly recommended if you are just staarting out or are an advanced skier wanting to brush up on your technique.
Skiing has evolved into an adventure sport which has attracted adventuraous, thrill seeking individual world wide. Additions like heli-skiing and snowcat skiing continue to push the boundaries of what this sport can offer.