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Nature Notebook – Cross-country Skiing History

While there might not be enough snow to cross-country ski at the Nature Center right now, snow accumulation was never a problem during winter for the inventors of skis in Scandinavia.

The word ski comes from an Old Norse word, “skíð,” which means a split piece of wood. Skiing began thousands of years ago as a means of transportation for people in Scandinavia to hunt and collect firewood in the wintertime. The Norwegian’s ski design was different than our identical left and right skis of today. The Sami people of Scandinavia had one very long ski for gliding, one short ski with fur traction on the bottom, and only one long pole to propel forward.

Skiing started becoming a sport in the 1800’s, when Norwegian military units would organize contests between themselves and it has only grown in popularity.

Cross-country skiing became an Olympic sport for men in 1924, at the first winter Olympic Games, and for women in 1952. Today, skiing has taken on many forms, including the classic cross-country skiing and also skate skiing, where the skier alternately pushes their skis at an angle to propel forward.