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17 Fun Facts About Skiing

It’s time to strap on some ski boots and hit the slopes. Read on to take a vertical drop into our wicked collection of fun facts about skiing!

interesting facts about skiing

Skiing is one of the most popular winter sports and a favorite past time of millions of people around the world. However, the invention of skis goes back over 8,000 years! This was when nomadic people traveled across the vast arctic expanse in search of food and shelter with skis strapped to their feet.

What we think of now as sport was once important in the survival of human beings. From neolithic survival to winter vacations, keep reading for more fun facts about skiing.

skiing facts
We just love the whole history of skiing

Whether hitting the downhill slopes, or winding through a groomed trail, skiing is one of the most popular winter activities for people of all ages. In many countries in North America and Europe, children often learn to ski as soon as they can toddle around.

Some people ski for the exercise it offers, while others are daredevils who want the exhilaration of speed and danger. And some people prefer the apres ski and don’t even go on the slopes at all! We won’t say which ones we are…

There are so many questions about skiing though. What is the fastest speed a skier has ever traveled? And who are have superior fitness levels, downhillers or cross country skiers?

Below you’ll find loads of interesting skiing facts which will amaze anyone on the chair lift you’re with!

cool facts about winter
Winter means so, and snow means skiing!

17 Fun Facts About Skiing

1. Skiing is really, really old

It’s believed that traveling through the snow on skis dates back to the Neolithic period of 6,000 BCE. A set of skis were found in northern Russia dating back to this period. 

Nomadic neolithic humans travelled across vast ice sheets in search of food and shelter on these skis. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s when skiing was enjoyed as sport and recreation. That’s surprisingly late, isn’t it?

2. Don’t look down

Some skiers thrive on steep slopes, often seeking out the largest vertical drops for their runs. The biggest vertical drop in the United States is in Snowmass, Colorado. A lift will take you up to conquer a drop of 4,406 vertical feet.

In Canada, Revelstoke Mountain Resort holds the North American record with a vertical drop of 5,620 feet.

cross country skiing
Cross-country skiing burns the most calories

3. The popularity of the flatlanders

Unlike what a lot of people think, you don’t need a hill to ski! Many plains and coastal towns get a lot of snow each year too, but instead of heading up a mountain, they cross-country ski through the woods or along snow covered riverbeds.

In fact, cross-country skiing burns more calories and is overall more popular worldwide than downhill skiing. This is one of our top ski facts we just love telling people!

4. A personal team of horses or huskies

The competitive sport of skijoring has been gaining popularity worldwide. Skijoring is the act of skiing while being pulled by a horse, a team of dogs, or sometimes even a vehicle.

The word is derived from a mash-up of two Norwegian words that mean ‘ski-driving’. It was even an Olympic exhibition event in 1928.

5. The country with the most alpine skiing champions

Austria is known as a powerhouse when it comes to competitive alpine skiing. The national team has won double the Olympic medals than any other country, and produced the most world champions too.

It doesn’t hurt that Austria is home to some of the most famous ski hills including Kitzbuhel and Solden! We’ve been skiing in Austria and we can confirm it’s incredible.

speed skiing record
Austria is one of the top places to go skiing in the world

6. Skiing down under?

Even though Australia is most known for its sweltering heat (it holds the record as the hottest place ever recorded in the world), long surfable coastline and exotic animals, there are also a few ski resorts in Australia’s high country.

During the winter months of July to August, there are 15 ski resorts to choose from for those looking for a winter fix. Skiing was first introduced to Australians by Norwegian gold miners in the 1860s.

7. Don’t hit that gate!

If you’ve watched a skiing competition on television or in person, you’ve seen the skier trying to avoid crashing into the red and blue gates.

It is a serious offence in skiing and disqualifies a skier from the competition. Skiing rewards quick tight turns, and weaving through the gates at high speed is what separates the best from the rest.

8. Don’t forget skiers jump too

Ski jumping is yet another branch of skiing that not only takes aerodynamic athleticism but also nerves of steel. Men and women shoot themselves down an iced ramp on two wide skis.

The drops are sometimes as high as 184 meters. The skier launches into the air and can fly for distances of over 200 meters. We always think they look a bit like flying squirrels.

ski facts
There are so many different types of events in skiing

9. Take it into the water

For some skiiers the winter season is just too short. Nothing a set of waterskis can’t solve for the warm summer months!

In the United States there are over 4 million water skiers riding the cascading wake of a speedboat each year. It is common in waterskiing to drop a ski and put both your feet onto one ski. Some people drop both skis and do it barefoot!

10. When are you too old to ski?

Skiing is a sport that people can enjoy for many years, including well into their retirement. About 20% of all skiers are over the age of 55.

Wisconsin sisters Kay Doran and her sister, Mary-Beth Kuester, continue to ski at Rib Mountain in Wisconsin at 85 and 82 years old. Both have been skiing for over 70 years, and Mary Beth is still taking small jumps. Skiing really does keep you young!

11. That’s an impressive trophy case

The legendary Norwegian skiing champion Kjetil André Aamodt has won an astonishing 8 Olympic medals in the alpine skiing events, including 4 golds.

In cross-country skiing, Bjorn Daehlie’s resume is even more impressive. Once again, another Norwegian, Daehlie won 12 Olympic medals, 8 of them gold. Those Norwegians really can ski!

skiing history
What do you think is more popular – skiing or snowboarding?

12. Skiing or snowboarding?

While snowboarding may seem like the cooler option, skiing still reigns supreme when it comes to popularity. In the United States in the 2017/2018 season, the number of snowboarders was 2.2 million while the number of skiers was more than three times higher at 7.0 million.

13. Wax on, wax off

If you loved your winter sports you’ll know wax is an important accessory if a skier wants to get the optimal performance out of their skis. Wax helps the ski glide over the surface, allowing for smoother transitions and sharper turns.

The plethora of waxes out there is enough to boggle the mind. Products include block wax, paste wax, liquid wax, powder wax and spray wax. That’s a lot of wax.

14. The fittest of all endurance athletes

A VO2-Max test is used to measure lung capacity. By far the highest lung capacity numbers come from cross-country skiers, who have tested a VO2-Max as high as 96 ml/kg/min.

Cross-country events are some of the longest in the Olympics with courses up to 50 kilometers long including steep continuous climbs.

winter sports
The downhill ski speed record is blisteringly quick!

15. The need for speed

In 2016, Italian speed skier Ivan Origone broke the world record for speed skiing by careening down the vertical slope at Vars ski resort in France and reaching a rapid pace of 158.4 mph.

On the same day, Italian skier Valentina Greggio broke the women’s speed skiing record clocking a blistering 153.4 mph.

16. The doping scandals of cross-country

A sport that requires so much endurance and muscle recovery was bound to get caught up in the drug scandals of competitive sport. At the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City two Russians skiers finished ahead of Canadian Beckie Scott in the 15km distance race.

However, years later both Russians were stripped of their medals for taking the banned substance darbepoetin, and Scott was upgraded to gold.

17. Strap on two sticks of wood

The word ski is derived from the Norwegian word for stick of wood or firewood. The Norwegians have a grand tradition of skiing both downhill and cross-country and both sports are considered the national sport of the country.

Most children learn to ski at a young age and many families spend weekends together following one another’s tracks in the great outdoors. It’s no wonder they are some of the world’s best skiers!

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