Even the most devoted skiers often are not familiar with the skiing history facts that shaped the origin of their sport. You can test your knowledge of snow skiing history by looking at a few of these little known facts about your favorite sport.
Although skiing originated in Europe, the first aerial ski lift was constructed in 1936 in North America for the resort of Sun Valley, Idaho. There were other tows before that pulled you up the slope on your skis, but this was the first one to take you airborne! At that time, Union Pacific Railroad owned Sun Valley, and an engineer for Union Pacific came up with the design, which is still used today.
The Materials Used In the First Skis
When modern snow skiing began, there were only basic wood skis used, until the 1880’s when Norwegian craftsmen began making skis from hickory wood for its toughness and ability to withstand wear and tear. This eventually led to the ability to affix metal edges, and develop more technical capability for skiers. Wood continued to be used as a core material until the 1950’s in the classic Head ski brand, even as newer metal and fiberglass models took over the market.
The First Ski School in North America
Although the first ski instruction took place in the 1700’s in Norway for the military, a little known downhill skiing fact is the location of the first ski school founded in North America. In 1929, the first formal U.S. ski school began at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire. This was also the location of the first aerial tram, build in 1937.
The Name of the First Snowboard
Snowboarding also has a place in downhill skiing history facts, since in 1965 the first snowboard was designed by lashing two skis together. This invention became the Snurfer, and over a million Snurfers were sold in the following 10 years. Incidentally, the first snowboarding competition was called the World Snurfing Championships!
Who Was the First Skier in America?
The first known skier in America was “Snowshoe Thompson” who started in 1850 carrying the mail over the Sierra Nevada range in California with use of his skis. He made the skis himself, and carried one long pole for balance as he navigated the backcountry slopes at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. He did this for 20 years, twice a month all winter long to earn his place in the history of skiing fact list.
Where Did Skiing Get Its Start as an Olympic Sport?
In 1936, the Olympic Games at Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Germany saw the addition of both slalom and downhill skiing events for men and women. All gold medals in the combined event were won by the host country Germany, and the top finisher for America was Dick Durrance who placed 10th. Durrance went on to become manager of the Aspen Skiing company in 1947, and was pivotal in bringing Aspen to international skiing notoriety.
All of these skiing history facts form the backdrop for the evolution of the sport, which continues in the same spirit of outdoor fun and athletic challenge that began almost 100 years ago.
Now test your friends to this snow skiing quiz!