Things may not be going to plan at the moment and our Winter plans are still up in the air. This time last year we would have already hit the slopes, but unfortunately, this Winter is being more challenging. So, we've decided to bring you an interesting read about things you probably don't know about the skiing world.
Surely, you're as much a fan of skiing as we are, so it's well worth giving this post a read and stay in touch with the ski world even if it's from the comfort of your home.
1. The origin of the word ski is Nordic
We couldn't start our list of ski trivia any other way. In fact, this term comes from the old Norse word skíð , which means 'piece of wood'.
In addition, Norse mythology has the figure of Skaði (or Skade), who is the goddess of winter. It is said that she lived in the snowy mountains and that, in addition to skiing, she was also an exceptional hunter, with great handling of the bow. Skaði was generally depicted dressed in white.
2. The first skiers were Norwegians ... or were they from Asia?
Who are the pioneers? The truth is that this honor is disputed by several nations. In Norway, the first evidence of the existence of skiing within its current borders dates back to 5000 BC. We refer to Rødøy, in the county of Nordland, where a cave painting shows a man on skis and a stick.
However, this is not the only ancestral vestige of skiing. There is also another on Lake Sindor, located 1,200 km northeast of Moscow, where the oldest skis in the world were recovered, dating back to 6300 BC. and 5000 BC
In any case, the struggle to be the discoverers of skiing continues. According to some experts, members of the Altai mountain tribes between China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia, may have practiced a rudimentary form of skiing before the Scandinavians.
3. Skiing has played a key role in wars
Today, it is inevitable to associate skiing with a holiday in the snow . However, this has not always been the case. An example is found in 16th century Scandinavia, when Sweden, eager to gain control of the Baltic Sea, went to war with Denmark During the conflict, and to evacuate the wounded , a canvas was used that was stretched with the help of skis, which gave rise to the birth of the first modern stretchers
Nor should it be forgotten that fighters displaced in mountainous regions have been using skis as a means of transportation for hundreds of years. This means of travel played a key role during the two world wars. And there is more: it is believed that ski competitions would have their origin in military exercises. Without going any further, the Norwegian army began to form battalions of skiers in the middle of the 18th century
4. Arthur Conan Doyle helped popularize skiing
Who would have thought that the creator of Sherlock Holmes had something to do with winter sports? Well it was! The famous writer began skiing in the Swiss Alps in 1893, when he moved to the Swiss country on prescription so that his wife's delicate health could improve with the mountain air.
It was there that, while learning to ski at night to avoid the taunts of the villagers - yes, we've all been beginner skiers at one time - he met the Branger brothers. Accompanying them on one of their journeys, Conan Doyle became the first Englishman to cross the Maienfelder Furgga, whose summit is at an altitude of 2,440 m
He was also, according to The Daily Telegraph, the first Englishman to write about the thrill of skiing .
5. The oldest ski resort in the world is in the French Alps
We are not far from the Alpine landscapes yet, since there is the ski resort of La Clusaz (Haute-Savoie, France), an hour's drive from the Swiss city of Geneva. And what's so special about it?
Its antiquity, since it was inaugurated around 1907. For this reason, many consider it as the oldest of all that have been in operation since its creation. If you are considering skiing in the French Alps , put it on your agenda!
6. The oldest ski resort in Spain is Candanchú
In Spain, it's the Candanchú ski resort, which opened its doors for the first time in 1928. Located in the heart of the Aragonese Pyrenees and less than 30 km from the city of Jaca (Huesca), it has been consolidated in recent years as a perfect destination for family skiing, thanks to the services and facilities it offers to beginner skiers.
Now, the more advanced will also find options with which to discharge adrenaline in abundance, since its 50.5 km marked out include 16 red runs and 13 black runs. Almost nothing!
7. The first mechanical lifts in Spain were those of La Molina
Now is the time to stop at the Catalan Pyrenees , since the first ski lift in Spain opened on February 28, 1943 in the La Molina ski resort (Alp, Girona). Specifically, it was launched on the slopes of Fontcanaleta.
Three years later, this Catalan resort would once again be a pioneer in the installation of ski lifts, with the inauguration of the Turó de la Perdiu chairlift in the winter season of 1946-1947
8. Skiing has been an Olympic sport since the 1920s
Cross-country skiing has been a part of the Winter Olympics in all editions since its inception in 1924 (not to be confused with the Summer Olympics, which began in 1896 in the modern era).
For its part, alpine skiing was first introduced at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Of course: it would be necessary to wait until the end of the Second World War for the inhabitants of central Europe to adopt it as a hobby. Furthermore, this sport contributed to speed up travel through the Alps. Of course: it must be clarified that the first documented alpine skiing race took place a few decades ago, in Sweden, in 1879.
9. Skiing helped walk on the Moon
Yes, that's right! When Harrison Schmitt visited the Moon in 1972 as one of three astronauts on the Apollo 17 spacecraft, he set the moonwalk speed record by using a thrust technique used in cross-country skiing , and the one that he said was a perfect method to move through the so-called Sea of Tranquility.
In addition, the astronaut claimed that the satellite would be an ideal place to ski in the future. Will Schmitt end up correcting his prediction? On the other hand, it remains to be seen if this inspired the singer Michael Jackson in one of his most legendary dances.
10. Snowboarding is an American invention
Unlike skiing (as we have seen, it has been part of our daily lives for thousands of years), snowboarding is much more recent. Its story begins in 1965, when Sherman R. Poppen, a citizen of Muskegon (Michigan, United States) decided to give his daughter a toy created by him, tying two skis to build a kind of skateboard without wheels. The curious invention was baptized by his family as snurfing.
11. In its early days, snowboard was prohibited in tourist centres
Until the early 1980s, resorts banned snowboarding. Traditionally, skiing was a sport mainly practiced by middle-aged adults , while snowboarding was seen as a dangerous teenage fad. Luckily, in the 1983-1984 winter season, the Stratton Mountain Resort, in Vermont (United States) decided to open its slopes to snowboarding.
Although this helped to popularize this discipline, the definitive accolade came in 1998, when snowboarding was incorporated into the program of the Olympic Games, in the edition held in Nagano (Japan). From then on, snowboarding became the fastest growing sport in America.
12. Many countries have hundreds of ski resorts
Currently, it is estimated that 97 countries in the world have a facility equipped for skiing or snowboarding. Among them, we should mention the hermetic North Korea, which has a ski resort in the Masik mountain pass; Mount Hermon, in Israel, or Bamyan, a province located in central Afghanistan. It is even possible to ski in Dubai, since this Arab emirate has a covered ski resort, located on a hill 60 m above sea level.
Anyway, the country with the most ski resorts is Japan, with about 550 resorts, followed at a good distance by the United States, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Canada, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in that order. Spain is far from the top-10, although it can boast of being an ideal destination for winter sports.
Indeed, in Spain you can choose between 38 ski resorts , spread across Andalusia - where the Sierra Nevada ski resort is, the highest in southern Europe -, Aragon, Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Galicia, Community of Madrid and La Rioja. The Principality of Andorra has three —Grandvalira, Pal-Arinsal and Ordino-Arcalís—, while in neighboring Portugal there is only one: Serra da Estrela.
13. Only a small percentage of Spanish people know how to ski
It is estimated that a quarter of the population of Austria, Norway and Switzerland know how to ski or snowboard. In Spain; According to a study by Lauren Vanat in 2018 , this country has 2,369,000 ski or snowboarders, which is equivalent to approximately 5% of its population
It is definitely time to turn this figure around. To encourage you to get started in this sport, you can add ski lessons when booking your ski ski pass and hotel pack with Esquiades.com. Dare to take the step: we assure you that it is very worth it!
14. Snow sports, the stars in many movies
Even the seventh art has ended up surrendering to the magic of winter sports. Hence, the ski slopes have become a recurring setting for filming great blockbusters.
Even James Bond himself, the most famous spy in the movie world, has shown his skills on skis on several occasions, in titles such as The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), The World Is Never Enough (1999) or Specter: 007 ( 2015), a film in which actor Daniel Craig suffered an injury while skiing.
15. Skiing has its own patron saint
We close our list of curiosities about skiing with a note that will please the most religious: winter sports, as well as mountaineering, also have their own saint.
We are talking about Saint Bernard of Chin (1020-1081), an Italian monk and religious who founded a hospice and monastery in a rather dangerous corner of the Swiss Alps, baptized as the Saint Bernard Pass. In his honor, the dogs trained by Swiss monks to accompany Christian pilgrims in the area are called Saint Bernard (yes, exactly: they are the ones that carry a small barrel of brandy tied to their collar)
Our team of ski and snowboard experts in Esquiades.com encourage you to take this time to stay connected to the ski world even if it's from your home.
So, you may not be able to hit the slopes any time soon but you can start planning your ski holiday for 2021. We have some great half-term ski deals, March and Easter.
Are you concerned about booking so soon?
On Esquiades.com you can book with total peace of mind knowing that we've got you covered. ALWAYS:
❄️ Do you have to cancel due to lockdown restrictions? This Winter we're offering all of our customers a free cancellation in case of lockdown restrictions in either the country of origin or in your ski destination.
❄️ What if you book a ski holiday and have to self-isolate a few days before traveling? What would happen then? On Esquiades.com you can add our covid-19 money-back guarantee , an extra service that would cover your cancellation costs if this were to happen.
❄️ Want to find out how the ski resorts are going to operate? We're constantly receiving updates, photos and protocols from the different ski resorts we work with. Check out our ski safe article and read about all the anti-covid and safety measures that are being implemented in the ski resorts.
Find out which ski resorts are already open and start planning your ski holiday with Esquiades.com