According to ancient history, skiing has been in existence for about 4500 years or more. This was ascertained by ancient rock drawings in Norway that show a man on what appear to be crude skis, holding a stick. The word ski comes from the Norse word skio, which means stick of wood.
There has been some debate about the origin of skis. Skis may be variations of the pedal snowshoe, the sledge runner, the fur shoe, the marsh shoe, or even the canoe. Ski poles have two possible origins, which is the walking stick, or the spear that had a basket attached to the top end in which items were carried, while using the spear to maintain balance.
However, in modern history, Sondre Norheim from Telemark, Norway, has been considered the father of modern skiing. This is due to the fact that he invented equipment and techniques that are still used today. But again, there has been debate as to whether or not he actually created the equipment and techniques, or whether he just made them popular.
Skiing was introduced for military purposes by the Norwegian military as far back as the 1670s. In 1939 the USSR invaded Finland, and Finnish ski troops thwarted the invasion. This was the largest scaled use of skiing in military history. This success prompted President Roosevelt in the United States to form the 10th Mountain Division, which was a military ski troop.
The first recorded ski race took place in Norway in 1843. The first recorded national ski tournament was held in Michigan in 1905, and the Roberts of Kandahar Cup race took place in Montana in 1911, which was actually one of the first downhill races recorded. The first downhill race that was actually called a downhill race took place in 1921 during the British National Ski Championships. The first slalom took place immediately after that in 1922.
The first known ski club was founded in 1861 in Norway. The International Ski Federation was founded in 1924 in Chamonix, France. France also gave us the first pair of aluminum skis in 1934. The first rope tow in America appeared in 1932, and the first chairlift was built in Sun Valley, Idaho in 1936. The first tramway in the US was introduced in 1938.
Skis have been used to carry mail, to get to gold mines in the Sierras, and to just get from one place to another in general for thousands of years. Many land based explorations were conducted on skis. While now done for sport, skiing was a part of everyday life for many at one point. It was a necessary means of transportation that was devised out of need.
Throughout history, there have been many great people that have taken the basics of skiing and turned it into a sport that is enjoyed by people from all walks of life worldwide. Once done out of necessity, it now offers a great deal of physical challenge, and those challenges have been met by numerous great men and women around the world.