On my end of the great swamp, we don't have much real winter...the temps are fairly mild and we rarely see snow. But it's a whole other story on the far side of the swamp. There, they get loads of snow and cold wintry temps. My friend's parents own a ski lodge at the base of Lily Pad's only ski resort...Frog Mountain. Little brother Quigley and I have been invited for the weekend. It's the Wart Brothers first attempt at snow skiing. Quigley, Jr. is super-excited and I'm curious to learn more about the sport. In my usual fashion, I did some research and found a few interesting facts about skiing that I thought you might enjoy.
1. It all started in Norway. The word ski comes from the old Norse word skio, which means "a piece of wood." Ancient carving unearthed by archaeologists in Norway suggests that locals there started skiing many thousands of years ago. One rock drawing is thought to date back from 4000 BC! Modern skiing got it's start in Norway, as well, with the invention of Telemark binding. They were invented by Sondre Norheim in the 1800's and allow skiers to jump and turn.
2. But, then, it may have started in Asia. Skiing as a sport is widely accepted to have originated in Norway. Tribesmen in the Altai Mountains between China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Russia may have been practicing a form of skiing even earlier than the Scandinavians. Part of a primitive, wooden ski thought to be 8,000 years old was found near Lake Sindor in Russia.
3. Skiing owes a lot to Sherlock Holmes's creator. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes discovered skiing when he went to Switzerland in 1893. The mountain air had been prescribed for his wife's health. While there and working with locals, The Branger Brothers, h made the first pass of the 8,000 foot Maienfelder Furka mountain passage. Doyle was also credited with being the first Englishman to write about the pleasures of skiing saying it "was as near to flying as as any earthbound man can get."
4. Until the 1800's skiing was primary used as transportation. It wasn't until the turn of the 18th century that it became a recreational sport.
5. The first downhill skiing race was held in Sweden in 1879. Alpine skiing made its debut at the 1936 Winter Olympics. Franz Pfnur of Germany won the first gold medal in the sport.
6. Skiing is the only 6-letter word with a double "i" exactly in the middle.
7. St. Bernard of Montjoux is the patron saint of skiers. Pope Pius XI proclaimed him a saint in 1923. Saint Bernard dogs are named for him and are commonly used in the rescue of skiers.
8. Skiing is one of the fastest non-motorized sports on land. Skiers can ski faster than cars. This was proven in 2006 by Simone Origone who set a speed skiing record of 156.2 miles per hour (mph). Road cars were, at that time, clocked at traveling only 120 mph.
9. Many skiers invoke the name of ‘Ullr’ the Norse God of winter and make small offerings to get him to unleash a powder dump on selected ski hills.
10. Astronaut Harrison Schmitt (1972) said that astronauts travelling to the moon should learn the art of cross country skiing as he believed that the techniques involved in skiing will help walking on the moon easier and envisioned ‘lunar skiing holidays’ in the future.
Whatever your plans are this weekend, I hope they include some outside activities. Winter can seem long and cold but skiing, skating, and other outdoor activities, can make the season pleasurable. And winter sports are great exercise. Keep warm burns off a lot of the extra calories you'll consume from drinking all that delicious hot chocolate!
Please join me back here on Monday. Until then, stay safe and I wish you all