Looking for some fun facts about skiing? From Ski World Cup champions to the biggest vertical drops, check out these amazing ski facts now!
Skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in the world. Just think of the millions of people who go skiing every year!
However, skiing isn’t new. 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 a hobby and a sport was once important in the survival of human beings. From neolithic survival to winter vacations, keep reading for more fun facts about skiing. We promise that you’ll find some of these very surprising!
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!
17 Fun Facts About Skiing
1. People have been skiing for thousands of years
It’s believed that traveling through the snow on skis dates back to the Neolithic period of 6,000 BC. 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.
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 absolutely incredible.
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!
Ready for some downhill skiing facts? If you’ve watched a skiing competition on TV or in person, you’ve seen the skier trying to avoid crashing into the red and blue gates.
It’s 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.
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!
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 million.
These numbers are nothing compared to Europe though. French ski resorts recorded more than 55 million skier visits during the 2018-2019 season, the highest number in the world behind Austria.
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. You really do need to be seriously fit to be a cross-country skier.
15. Fastest skier recorded
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. Can you imagine going that fast? It’s basically the speed of an F1 car!
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!
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
We really hope you enjoyed learning all about skiing with our random ski facts. If you’ve got any facts about skiing that we’ve missed, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to our list!