The Most Influential Gear of All Time: First Slalom Skis

1879

Early alpine skis

Early alpine skis via Shutterstock     Photo: miljan_petrovic

Sondre Norheim is considered the father of modern skiing. Born in the small village of Morgedal in Telemark, Norway, Norheim displayed an early talent for the one-day sport—at that time it was mostly used for transportation—and craftsmanship. As a young boy, Norheim made what may well have been one of the world’s first ski jumps, launching off the roof of his parents’ cottage on two straight pine skis made by his father. But he soon found that he needed better equipment to tackle steeper hills and to make tighter turns, so he experimented with a tight fitting birch binding and ended up shaping a short, curved, flexible ski for easy turning in soft snow. In 1868, when he was 43, Norheim won the first Norwegian national skiing competition in Christiania (now Oslo) on skis he built himself. It took almost 40 years for Norway’s neighbors to adopt skiing as recreation, but by 1924, the ski jumping and the Nordic combined events were a part of the inaugural Olympic Games in Chamonix.

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