The „Bøla Man‟ the „Rødøy Man‟
The birth of skiing is commonly associated with the Norwegians.
Rock carvings of skiers have been found in Norway that date back to 4000 B.C.
There are reports about the use of skis among soldiers as far back in time as the Middle Ages.
Skiers appear in several places in The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway.
At the beginning of the 13th century, civil war raged in Norway.
In 1206, Håkon Håkonsson, the two year old son of the king Birkebeiner, had to be brought to safety.
The „two most ski-worthy men‟ were Torstein Skjelva and Skjervald Skrukka.
They brought the king‟s son over the mountains between Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen.
Carta Marina by Olaus Magnus (1539)
Olaus Magnus. Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus . Liber Undecimus. De Bellis Glacialibus –
Cap. XXXVI. De onagris, seu alcibus, in niuosa glacie currentibus (1555).
Olaus Magnus. Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus . Liber Primus. De ritu gentium et natura rerum ac usu
bellandi populorum Septentrionalium –
Cap. iiiI. De Scricfinnia (1555).
Norwegian Companies of ski troops were formed around 1750 in Trondheim and Kongvingen.
And the very first skiing competition were held by the military in 1767.
Other countries like France, Italy and Switzerland followed the Norwegian initiative.
In 1871 Captain Francois Clerc assigned in the Infantery Alpine 159 Regiment located in Briançon
incorporates skis for the troops equipment.
Austrian Companies of ski troops were formed in 1892.
Sondre Norheim (June 10, 1825–March 9, 1897) was the pioneer
of modern skiing. Born and raised in Morgedal
a small village centrally located in the county of Telemark,
Sondre loved the winter hills of Morgedal. As often as he could,
he put on his skis made of pine, which his father had made for him.
He became a master of downhill skiing, both in terms of skills
and in developing equipment.
Sondre has been credited for having invented the curved skis,
to facilitate turns, the bindings with stiff heel bands made of willow,
the Telemark turn and the Christiania turn.
Sondre contributed to a new and different way of
using the skis.
This is why he has been called the Father of Modern
Skiing. “Modern” is referring to the use of skis as a
recreation activity and in sports.
“Sondre generated enthusiasm and excitement
far beyond Morgedal.
He brought something new to the nation and the world.
He has made Norwegian words like ski and slalom
HM King Olav of Norway (1988)
In 1888, the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his fellows became the first men
to cross Greenland on skis. The book from this expedition was translated into several
languages, and played an important role in promoting skiing as a sport across Europe.
In his book Nansen describes skiing as “the sport of sports”.
At the end of the XIXth Mathias Zdarsky (1856-1940), an Austrian ski
instructor, developed the ski technique known as Stem. His teaching, collected in a
book titled Lilienfelder Skilauf-Technik (The Lilienfeld Skiing Technique) allowing
hundreds of Austrian people to control the downhill ski.
Mathias Zdarsky reduced the skis size to facilitate the turns
and incorporated the first metallic bindings.
Unfortunately many skiers were not aware about the new technique.
The continuous falls of the Alpine tourists inspired Reginald Cleaver illustrations of his
winter sports book published in London in 1911.
Subsequently, another Austrian, Georg Bilgeri (1873-1934) added the idea of using
two poles. This Austrohungarian Army Coronel published the new technique in 1910 in
the work called Der Alpine Skilauf (Alpine Skiing).
The new technique was especially popular in military circles.
At the beginning of the XXth Century women started to practice ski.
Some years had to pass to see the first women dressed with trousers.
The history and the development of sportive ski are, without a doubt, closely
associated with the eminent Austrian skiing pioneer Hannes Schneider (1890-1955).
Hannes Schneider laid the foundation stone for today‟s global “ski school” upon his
invention of the Stem Christiania –a stem turn- and his “Arlberg technique”.
In the twentys Arnold Fanck films contributed to the popularity of Hannes Schneider
and the Arlberg Technique. In 1926 Fanck and Schneider published the “Wunder des
Schneeschuhs (The Miracle of the Snowshoe). Ein System des richtigen Skilaufens und
seine Anwendung im alpinen Geländelauf “.
White Ecstasy –the first skiing film to be set to music- was made in 1931 on the
Arlberg. It was also Hannes Schneider‟s last major film role in which he played himself
as a ski instructor. The plot was a really simpleone: a “cheeky little madam from
Berlin” (played by Leni Riefenstahl) learns how to ski at Schneider‟s ski school, and in
the subsequent fox chase, her and Schneider are chased by 50 pursuers. Further roles
are played by the young Lothar Ebersberg, Guzzi Lantschner and Walter Riml, plus Rudi
Matt, the most talented actor amongst all the Arlberg ski instructors.
In 1924 Chamonix (France) organized the first Olympic Winter Games
including the ski jumping and the Nordic Combined.
In 1927, Arnold Lunn visited the Arlberg in order to become acquainted with Hannes Schneider
and the skiing technique he knew from the films by Arnold Fanck.
Lunn‟s visit to the Arlberg in 1927 had far-reaching consequences:
together with Hannes Schneider, he planned the first Arlberg-Kandahar competition for 1928:
it developed into a marked success.
This competition was also the first alpine combination of downhill skiing and slalom.
From 1931 on, the competition was held alternately in Mürren and St Anton.
The 1936 Games were held in the twin Bavarian towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen
Alpine skiing events were included for the first time.
Emile Allais was world champion at Chamonix
in 1937. He won the Downhill, Slalom and
He created the Ecole Francaise de Ski wich
taught innovative French methods
characterised by parallel turns.
In 1955, Austrian Stefan Kruchenhauser presented in the
III Interski Congress hosted in Val d‟Isere (France)
a new technique: the Wedeln.
In 1956 the new technique was used by skiers
throughout the world.
In october the american Ski Magazine included an article
under the title: Ski the new way.
The last ski technique revolution came in the Interski Congress hosted in
Beitostolen (Norway) in 1999:
The 2003 Interski reunion holded in Crans Montana (Switzerland)
showed the changes in the ski world.
It was the time for telemark, carving and snowboard;
new techniques for search of joy and freedom.