The Crystal Ski Holidays Blog

A brief history of skiing

Clicking into your ski boots, gliding down perfectly groomed runs and sipping creamy hot chocolate on a slopeside terrace…it’s hard to imagine a world without skiing. Here’s how our favourite winter sport started.

How was skiing invented?

Skiing was first invented around 3,000 BCE as a way of walking long distances in snow – wearing skis spreads out your weight and stops you from sinking into deep drifts. So it was more like modern cross-country skiing than the downhill type that most people do now.

Who invented skiing?

There’s a bit of debate about this and no one really knows who first came up with skiing. Chinese wall paintings hint at skis being used 5,000 years ago, but there are several other places that could have invented skiing – it’s been used for thousands of years in Canada, Alaska and Russia. Scandinavia usually gets the credit for inventing modern skiing though.

When was alpine skiing invented?

Alpine (or downhill) skiing wasn’t developed until the 18th century – the Norwegian and Swedish military used to organise ski exercises to test their soldiers’ skill and stamina. Fast-forward to the 1850s and Norwegian legend Sondre Norheim designed the first skis with a camber and sidecut – that’s the classic arched shape with a narrow centre and wider tips that we still use today.

When was the first Olympic event?

Chamonix hosted the very first Winter Olympics in 1924, with sports like curling, ice skating and cross-country skiing. But downhill skiing wasn’t included until the Garmisch-Partenkirchen games in 1936. Since then, it’s been split into two different types of event – speeding straight down a slope at over 80mph in the downhill races, or dodging between poles on the slalom courses.

When was freestyle skiing invented?

Freestyle skiing is the kind you do in snow parks or on mogul runs, with jumps, twists, flips and spins. Ski acrobats have been freestyling since the 1930s – but it was officially recognised as a sport by the International Ski Federation in 1979, and debuted at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games.

Now you know where it comes from, check out our deals to find a ski holiday that’ll go down in history.

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