Posted on May 11, 2021 67
Where did people first ski? Of course, where there is snow and mountains. In the harsh northern conditions, skis were often the only way to get around, and they were also the only way to get down a snowy slope quickly. Gradually, some daredevils organized competitions - who are the fastest to overcome the distance.
Often the same competitors could show their ability to run fast on skis on the flat, go downhill on the same skis, and even jump from the ski jump. A pure ski competition took place, if we believe sports historians, in 1879 in Norway. Residents of the small town Telemarken challenged skiers from Christiania (at that time this name was worn by the modern Norwegian capital - Oslo). The provincial won a convincing victory, and the example was infectious, and soon similar competitions were held throughout Scandinavia, as well as in the Alps.
In 1896, Mathias Zdarsky of the Czech Republic published the world’s first handbook for amateur skiers - “Lilienfeld Ski Technique”. In it he described in detail the technique of descending from the mountains on skis, and should not use two poles, as is customary today, but a long pole. During World War I, Zdarsky had a duel with an army colonel for recommending to his soldiers that they should not use poles.
However, Mathias Zdarsky contributed greatly to the development of skiing. For example, he was the first skier who could reach speeds over 100 kilometers per hour on skis. In those years, a rare car would have been able to compete with him. Zdarsky lived 84 years. A curious coincidence - during his passion for alpine skiing he received 84 fractures. More than once, the courageous skier was on the brink of life and death.
For a long time the International Ski Federation refused to recognize his alpine “brother” as an independent sport. The first world championship was held only in 1931 in the Swiss mountain village of Murren. A clear advantage was enjoyed by representatives of two countries - Switzerland and Great Britain. In four disciplines they won two victories each. Before the outbreak of World War II, such competitions were held regularly.
As mentioned above, Mathias Zdarsky was the first skier to break the 100 km per hour threshold. And how would his achievement look like nowadays? More than modest. In 1978, Steve McKinney from the USA reached a speed of over 200 kilometers, and the current record holder is the Italian Ivan Origone with 254.958 kilometers per hour.
Naturally, such competitions are an enormous risk for skiers and often lead to tragedy. Speed competitions are held on special trails, and the participants themselves use special protective equipment.
Skiers competed in the Olympic Games for the first time in 1936 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The sport has been a regular feature of the Olympics ever since. Skiers from three countries - Austria, Switzerland and the USA - lead in the number of medals won.
A big fan of skiing was the writer Arthur Conan Doyle. He was born in the Highlands of Scotland, but his passion for skiing did not take off in his homeland, but in Switzerland. The writer’s wife was diagnosed with tuberculosis, so doctors advised living in Swiss mountain resorts. It was there that Arthur Conan Doyle became addicted to downhill skiing. The mountain air probably helped his wife Louise as well; after her return from Switzerland she lived another 13 years. And in Davos a commemorative plaque for the writer’s contribution to the development of alpine skiing was erected.
Naturally, skiing is developed in those countries where the climate is appropriate. But there are exceptions. The southernmost ski run is located in the United Arab Emirates. The track, of course, is artificial, but very popular with tourists.
It was on a ski slope in the French Alps that the legendary car racer Michael Schumacher was severely injured. On December 29, 2013, he fell while descending and hit his head on a rock ledge. Schumacher has been bedridden ever since.
To keep fit, it is possible to take up alpine skiing at a mature age. But, international heights athletes over 30 years are rarely achieved. For example, the oldest Olympic champion is Austrian Mario Matt. At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, he won the slalom at the age of 34.
Lacroix’s most expensive alpine skis are made in France. The firm was founded by Leo Lacroix in 1967. Initially, the emphasis was on a personalized approach to customers. For example, for $62,000 the skis will be decorated with gold and diamonds. And as a gift, the customer will also get a bonus - a season ticket to Courchevel. For the 50th anniversary of the company, an anniversary batch of skis was produced, of course, 50 pairs.