Ski & Snowboarding History

Ski & Snowboarding History

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The History of Skiing - The First Skis

While the history of skiing is somewhat obscure, historians do have a good idea of the basic history of skiing. The first type of skiing was cross country skiing, which then evolved into downhill skiing.

The First Skis

It is believed that skiing evolved from snowshoeing in Northern Europe and Asia. Skiing evolved thousands of years ago, as the oldest skis found in France and Switzerland were estimated to be about 5,000 years old.

Ski poles evolved from the walking sticks snowshoers used for balance. Skiing was a way of transportation, and the fact that the bindings on old skis were loose toe straps proved that the first skis were cross country skis. After all, these loose bindings wouldn't secure the skis on downhill run, so the first skiers were nordic skiers.

The History of Snowboarding

In 1964 a young surf freak called Sherman Poppen was dreaming about surfing the magic winter landscape of the Rockies. As a consequence, he built a surfboard for the snow.

His first prototype was an about 1,20 m long plastic plank: two kids' skis bolted together. It was a present for his daughter Wendy which soon was a winner in the neighbourhood. One year later, in 1965, his idea was put into production: Carried out together with a bowling-ball manufacturer, the now called "snurfer" (=snow-surfer) found its way through toy-stores under the Christmas trees. For the unbeatable price of $15, one million snurfers were sold in the 10 years following, and Mr. Poppen soon began to establish a competition series.

But the snurfer as a mass phenomenon disappeared as quickly as he had emerged from the white surf of the Rockies. Nothing else but the vague memory of an uncontrollable toy stayed in most people's minds. It was close to be the end of a fantastic idea - surfing the winter mountains -if there wouldn't have been blokes like Dimitrije Milovich or Jake Burton Carpenter.

In 1970, Milovich, an east coast surfer, had an idea while he was sliding around on cafeteria trays in the snow of upstate New York. He started to develop snowboards following the example of the new short surf boards. He even used rudimentary steel edges - an idea he soon gave up because he only rode in deepest powder anyway. He experimented with laminating glass and gravel on the board and also used nylon straps. His company "Winterstick" is to be considered as the first snowboard company ever. In 1975, they were mentioned in American magazines like Newsweek and Playboy, and already in 1976, he threw a swallow tail board on the nearly not existing market. In 1980, the company was broke.

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